Richard Wright's Black Boy: The Price of Pride

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Black Boy Thematic Essay
According to the great philosopher Aristotle, “Hubris is the great sin of unrestrained will and the tragic fall in…character”. As with any great hero, the flaw of hubris is a weakness which causes them much struggle and conflict and frequently leads to their downfall. In the novel Black Boy by Richard Wright, the main character Richard is a young black boy growing up in the South who lives in hunger, poverty, and fear. One of his biggest faults is his excessive pride; it is the source of many of his issues with others. Richard’s massive pride leads to dilemmas at his school, at his work, and in his relationships. To begin, Richard causes problems for himself at his job because he is so full of pride. When the white men at Richard’s job want Richard and Harrison to fight each other, Richard does not want to do it, even for money. Richard’s dignity is more important to him then having money. He does not want to be a pawn to the white men and let them have their fun with him and then just discard him and find another black boy to run errands. To Richard, no amount of money is worth his pride. Another instance is when Richard refuses to take a dollar from a Yankee. Richard and the Yankee both know that Richard is hungry, but Richard is too proud and would feel ashamed if he accepted the dollar. Richard is a very independent person and only allows others to help him if it is absolutely necessary. Because Richard’s pride will not allow him to cave in to his hunger, he displays great willpower, which most people do not have. A third example occurs when Richard watches his coworker Shorty act foolish in front of a white man just to get a quarter. Shorty does not care what others think of him and will do anything to make a quick buck, which he reveals when he says, “‘my ass is tough and quarters is scarce’” (Wright 229). Unlike Shorty, Richard would rather earn money through hard work or have no money at all. Richard does not like to show...
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