In of longing and anger, others misunderstood

  In both “Caged Bird” and “Sympathy,” the authors purposefully use the enclosed bird’s sorrowful song as a representation of African Americans’ only remaining tool against restrictions.

In “Sympathy,” the captured bird uses his song as his only tool for communication and an indirect protest for his deserved opportunities. The author writes, “It is not a carol of joy or glee/But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core” (Dunbar 18, 19, 20). In this quote, the bird’s cries and sorrowful song were misinterpreted for happiness, although they were his only tools for demanding liberty. Even though the bird’s song is full of longing and anger, others misunderstood the bird’s cries as cheerful and dismiss its true meaning. As a result, the author used the bird’s misunderstood singing to represent African American’s secret portrayal of struggles disguised under rhythmic songs, all of which were needed for protesting about deserved advantages. Similarly to “Sympathy,” the enclosed bird in “Caged Bird” used his voice as a resource to try to overcome these injustices despite his restrictions. The author notes, “His wings are clipped and/his feet are tied/so he opens his throat to sing” (Angelou 12-, 13, 14).

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In this quote, readers can observe that despite the enclosed bird’s physical restrictions, he will forever maintain control over his feelings and words. Although tieing the bird’s wings restrict his physical abilities, his perspective and feelings cannot be controlled by anyone else, accurately connecting with African American’s underestimated voice. Relating to “Sympathy’s” lack of response, in “Caged Bird,” the trapped bird’s “tune is heard/on the distant hill” (19, 20) representing African American’s use of their resources to protest, express their needs, and bring attention over their disregarded and ignored restrictions. Thus, both authors in “Caged Bird” and “Sympathy” used the trapped bird’s helpless song to represent African Americans’ only resource against multiple limitations, contributing to the theme about African American’s battle for liberty.


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