Importance of Joe Louis in The Caged Bird

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The African Americans gather together at the store to listen to Joe Louis defend his world heavy weight boxing title. The fight determines who is stronger. Everyone wants Louis to win. The interest of the black people. “The last inch of space was also filled, yet people continued to wedge themselves along the walls of the store. ” No one wanted to miss a single bit of the match. Some people were confident that Louis will prevail, “I ain’t worried about this fight. Joe’s gonna whip that cracker like it’s open season. ” Pg 135. Setting

Maya and Bailey are Uncle Willies Country Store along with the rest of the African American population from town there to listen to the fight on the radio. In I Know why the caged bird sings by Maya Angelou we witness the struggles of the black people in the 20th century. The event takes place in the store which is a symbol for the black community. It is a center place for Maya and Bailey. Maya also learns arithmetic by working in the store. The store is a place where the black community can get together with each other and talk about the main events.

They feel safe as a community and support each other. Joe Louis is a professional wrestler that can prove that the black people are the strongest. He is the person that is their only aide to reduce the racism in the society. Joe Louis is a symbol for the black people. Angelou compares Louis being defeated to “our people falling” or being “back in slavery” is overstatement; it implies that things will instantly improve or get horrible based on merely this fight, which doesn’t seem completely logical. The Louis fight symbolizes the fight for equality and to ease the struggle of independence.

How is Joe Louis special for the black community? He represents the black community. He is the only person that can give them hope and make them stronger. This was black against white man. The fight determines how blacks will be looked upon. It was a matter of life and death. Everyone in the Store needs Louis to win. This is to prove that black people can be victorious and can’t take a beating. Louis is taking a beating and does not look good for him. “My race groaned. It was our people falling. It was another lynching, yet another Black man hanging on a tree.

One more woman ambushed and raped. A Black boy whipped and maimed. It was hounds on the trail of a man running through slimy swamps. It was a white woman slapping her maid for being forgetful. ” Pg 135 The black would face this terrible treatment from the white community and will lose to standup for themselves and prove everyone wrong. Maya wants him to win or then every comment the white say about blacks will be true. They will go zero in front of the town. The white will comment more about them. The things that the black people might do might turn up to be their drawback if Louis loses.

This would be their negative side. Louis had to win to prevent all these from happening. What have the black community gained by Joe Louis’s win? As Louis is down he gets this inner boost and fights back, knowing that he is representing every black human being. “And now looks like Joe is mad. He’s caught Carnera with a left hook to the head and a right to the head. (pg 135) he injures the white and his eye was bleeding, and he could not do anything to protect himself.

And then what the black community wanted was when he fell. “Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner! Louis had helped the black to prove that they’re the strongest people in the world. He is a turning point for Maya as she realizes that she has someone to look up too. He also creates an empowering rejection of the negative stereotypes that were upon blacks. White society prevented most forms of black advancement. Louis became figures that the black community relied upon for strength. His victory gives hope to the people of Stamps, though whether it will really change anything is unclear. He had become the strongest man in the world. Does the god help the black community?

Maya says that “God himself hated us and ordained us to be hewers of wood and drawers of water. ” (pg 135) Joe is down and he’s almost about to lose. But he gets up in and is mad. God gives him strength and the ability to fight back. He fulfills the prayers of the black community. God helps people who have done good deeds. How does Maya describe the black people? Maya thinks “That all black people are stupid and ugly and lazy and dirty and unlucky. ” (pg 135) We can also see that the author creates a somber and a depressed atmosphere. What lessons can the white people learn from this defeat?

They can see that black people are not weak and would be a little more careful with them. When Joe catches Carmera he “Hits him on the right to the head and another left to the head” In my point of view, here Joe gets punches his brain and tries to damage. So whenever he Carnera will think anything against he’ll remember the beating he got from Joe (a black) did to him. So this will prevent him from thinking negative thoughts from his mind. The use of literary devices. Maya is speaking and Angelou creates a sense of close community and tense atmosphere.

“The men in the Store stood away from the walls and at attention. Women greedily clutched the babes on their laps while on the porch the shuffling and smiles, flirting and pinching of a few minutes were gone” pg 135 Even the babies don’t make any noise. There is the image of blood that Angelou presents. “The contenders right eye bleeding. This shows that how the white people viewed the African Americans and made racial comments. Viewed is an important word because without the eye’s we wouldn’t be able to see anything so this shows how the white looked at black people and thought about them. His eye was bleeding because from those eyes the white looked at them as servants, maids and not strong.

There are various moods in this passage. In the beginning the mood is anxious or apprehensive as Louis is about to lost the mood is more tense and worried and in the end the mood is joyful as everyone was celebrating on his win. The mood is very anxious as the people of Stamps listen to a black boy trying to defend his title. “The apprehensive mood was shot through with shafts. ” There is a simile on the same quote, ” as a black streak of lightening. ” Pg 133 Louis victory is like a streak of lightening. In the last paragraph we learn that the white people will be upset by the loss and will try to attack the blacks.

To take revenge on them. warning that the victory could also bring the lightening among the 2 races, and cause them to be more apart. The fight represented resisting racism because Joe Louis, to them, represented racial pride. When he wins, “Joe Louis had proved that we were the strongest people in the world. ” (pg 132). The word strongest represents them as strong community and as internally and physically. There is deep symbolism in the match and this passage. Louis’s fistfight with a white man becomes the ultimate clash of the races.

This is the symbol of blacks stand against centuries of enslavement, rape, negative comments and torturing treatment by the whites. His loss would return the idea of the whites to put down black people. Joe Louis must carry the burden of this symbolism because in that time or Maya’s time few blacks were allowed to achieve public fame. This victory also brings the African American community with a shot of energy and pride. Point of View The story is told in first person. To sum things up overall I think this chapter is significant because its about recognition and identification of the African Americans.

The author tries to show the blacks who have been losers for so long,(had no power ) were treated appalling way and there was a need to identify a winner. If Joe Louis had lost, it would mean “the fall of their race” in the minds of the black people. It would mean “another lynching, yet another Black man hanging on a tree. One more woman ambushed and raped. A Black boy whipped and maimed. It was hounds on the trail of a man running through slimy swamps. It was a white woman slapping her maid for being forgetful. ” Pg 135 The black would receive more negative treatment if Joe lost.

With his win the black had strength of hope and pride. They were proud of the fact they were strong. If this passage wasn’t in the play they wouldn’t be able to prove the white people anything. This also changes the way black people thought about themselves. It brings that if it wasn’t for Joe the younger generation would have no black inspirations or people to look upon to in their community. This passage brings the community together and changes the views of black people themselves. Conclusion: Maya Angelou brings out the aspects beyond those of a young girl’s private thoughts through real events.

This victory in the eyes of the black community became an example of the white man’s media failing to publicly recognize an African American as a hero. In the eyes of African Americans Joe Louis represented racial pride and was a role model who helped the people of Stamps to ease from their struggles from the white. Joe Louis’s victory is an empowering disagreement of the negative stereotypes that were in the African Americans. When the African Americans acquired public praise, role models and heroes such as Joe Louis became the strength for the black community.

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