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Angelou directly puts this incident in the novel, identifying her first major cage. Cullinan would not have changed her name and she did it only because of her racist friends and attitudes.
The prologue describes an event in which Angelou, as a small child, is reciting a poem in church.
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Join Britannica's Publishing Partner Program and our community of experts to gain a global audience for your work! The book chronicles her life from age 3 through age 16, recounting an unsettled and sometimes traumatic childhood that included rape and racism.
The caged bird sings with a fearful trill Of things unknown but longed for still And his tune is heard on the distant hill for The caged bird sings of freedom.
The free bird thinks of another breeze And the trade winds soft through The sighing trees And the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright Lawn and he names the sky his own.