Why does the caged bird stand on the “grave of dreams?”
Maya Angelou creates a vivid image with the line “But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams.” This is a death image. The hopes and dreams of a whole race of people are dead.
Angelou uses the images of a free bird and a caged bird to compare the lives of those who are free to create their own destiny, and those who are oppressed based on their race. Those who are oppressed have hopes and dreams but they are unattainable not because the people are incapable, but because they are born as people of color. She goes on to say that the bird, representing the oppressed people, lives with its feet “tied” and wings “clipped,” which renders it devoid of choices to better its situation. In spite of the dire circumstances, the bird chooses to sing. In other words, its spirit will not be broken.