The Little Black Boy
The theme of guardianship, being the act of guarding, protecting, and taking care of another person, is very prominent in William Blake’s “The Little Black Boy”. Three distinct instances of guardianship can be seen in Blake’s poem. These guardianship roles begin with the little boy’s mother, followed by God, and ultimately ending with the unsuspecting little black boy himself.
It is relatively easy to see the repression of blacks by whites in the way in which the little black boy speaks and conveys his thoughts. These racial thoughts almost immediately begin the poem, with the little black boy expressing that he is black as if bereaved of light, and the little English child is as white as an angel. The wonderful part of these verses is the fact that the little black boy knows that his soul is white, illustrating that he knows about God and His love.
In Blake’s poem, it is very clear that the little black boy and his mother have a very close and affectionate relationship. The boy expresses how his mother sits with him under the shade of the tree and shares with him the love of God. The little black boy, being influenced by society during this time, believes that once his black skin passes away, then the English child will love him. In hopes of changing his view of himself and his skin color, the boy’s mother tells him that there is an advantage to having black skin. The mother implies that black skin can bear more of the beams of God’s love than the white skin. “For when our souls have learn’d the heat to bear, the cloud will vanish; we shall hear his voice, saying: ‘Come out from the grove, my love and care, and round my golden tent like lambs rejoice.’” (Blake v.17-20). In telling her son this, the mother tries to express to him that God knows no color, and that one day God will call him just the same as he will call the white child.
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