Have you ever experienced real hunger? The kinds of hungers that
Richard experiences in Black Boy are not evident in the society where you
and I reside. The present middle class citizens cannot really relate to
true physical hunger. Hunger for most of us is when there is nothing that
we desire to eat around the house and therefore skip one meal. This cannot
even compare to the days that Richard endures without food. Physical
hunger, however, is not the only hunger apparent in Richard's life.
Richard suffers from emotional and educational hungers as well. He yearns
for such things as mere association with others and simple books to read.
Both of which are things that most people take for granted. This
efficacious autobiography, Black Boy, by Richard Wright manifests what it
is like to desire such simple paraphernalia.
From a very early age and for much of his life thereafter, Richard
experiences chronic physical hunger. "Hunger stole upon me slowly that at
first I was not aware of what hunger really meant. Hunger had always been
more or less at my elbow when I played, but now I began to wake up at night
to find hunger standing at my bedside, staring at me gauntly" (16). Soon
after the disappearance of Richard's father, he begins to notice constant
starvation. This often reappears in his ensuing life. The type of hunger
that Richard describes is worse than one who has not experienced chronic
hunger can even imagine. "Once again I knew hunger, biting hunger, hunger
that made my body aimlessly restless, hunger that kept me on edge, that
made my temper flare, that made my temper flare, hunger that made hate
leap out of my heart like the dart of a serpent's tongue, hunger that
created in me odd cravings" (119). Because hunger has always been a part
of Richard's lifestyle, he cannot even imagine eating meat every day.