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Vivian Baxter Johnson


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Caged Bird has been categorized as an autobiography, but Angelou utilizes fiction-writing techniques such as dialogue, thematic development, and characterization. She uses the first-person narrative voice customary with autobiographies, but also includes fiction-like elements, told from the perspective of a child that is "artfully recreated by an adult narrator". She uses two distinct voices, the adult writer and the child who is the focus of the book, whom Angelou calls "the Maya character". Angelou reports that maintaining the distinction between herself and "the Maya character" is "damned difficult", but "very necessary". Scholar Liliane Arensberg suggests that Angelou "retaliates for the tongue-tied child's helpless pain" by using her adult's irony and wit. Angelou recognizes that there are fictional aspects to her books – she tends to "diverge from the conventional notion of autobiography as truth". In a 1998 interview with journalist George Plimpton, Angelou discussed "the sometimes slippery notion of truth in nonfiction" and memoirs, stating, "Sometimes I make a diameter from a composite of three or four people, because the essence in only one person is not sufficiently strong to be written about. "

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