TITLE: Black Boy
AUTHOR: Richard Wright
INTRODUCTION OF AUTHOR: Richard Wright was born in Natchez, Mississippi.
When he was six years old, his father, Nathan Wright deserted the family for whatever
reason. His mother, Ella, became the breadwinner of the family. Abandoned by her
husband and unable to establish economic independence from her strict mother, Ella
suffered greatly. A strong woman who faces terrible adversity, she trained Richard to be
strong and to take care of himself. Later, the feisty, independent spirit Richard developed
at home led
him to refuse to accept the codes of behavior the white world has set for
Southern blacks. When Richard finally decided to become writer, that career represented
a declaration of independence from those in the black community.
PLOT SUMMARY: The opening chapter recounts Wright's early childhood in Natchez,
Mississippi, and his family's move to Memphis. It describes his early rebellion against
parental authority, his poverty and hunger, and his unsupervised life on the streets while
his mother is at work. Then the Wrights move to the home of Richard's Aunt Maggie. But
their pleasant life there ends when whites kill Maggie's husband. Later the threat of
violence by whites forces Maggie to flee again. Richard's mother has a stroke. Richard is
sent to his Uncle Clark's, but he is unhappy there and insists on returning to his mother's.
Richard confronts his Aunt Addie, who teaches at the Seventh-Day Adventist church
school. He also resists his grandmother's attempts to convert him to religious faith. And he
writes his first story. Richard gets a job selling newspapers but quits when he finds that
the newspapers espouse racist views. Later, his grandfather dies. Richard gets a job
working for white people. Then he is baptized in his mother's church. Finally, he has
another near-violent confrontation with a relative. Richard publishes his first story. The
reaction from his family is overwhelmingly negative. Richard becomes class valedictorian.
But he refuses to give the speech written for him by the principal. Richard has several
terrifying confrontations with whites. In the most important of these confrontations, he is
forced out of a job because he dares to ask to learn the skills of the trade. Richard learns
to steal. By stealing he acquires enough money to leave the Deep South. Richard finds a
place to stay in Memphis. The owner of his rooming house encourages him to marry her
daughter. Richard takes another job with an optical company. The foreman tries to
provoke a fight between him and a black employee of another company. Richard borrows
a library card and discovers the hard-hitting style of columnist H. L. Mencken. He begins
to read voraciously. Richard leaves for Chicago at the end of the novel.
Wright creates an image of himself as a boy who is sensitive to the external world
and to his own inner reality. He wants to bring to the white American audience what it
means to be black in the white world. It discusses the main theme which have been
occurres in many slave narratives: isolation from the mainstream society, the family's
struggle to remain united, dreams and longing for a better future, violence both against
and by blacks, the quest for literacy and freedom. Black Boy portrays the deprivation
Wright faces growing up. It shows poverty, hunger, lack of emotional support, miserable
living conditions, and Richard's response to these difficulties. The book also considers
family life. For Richard, home is a place of intense emotional conflict, and his family forces
him to fight back constantly in order to be able to pursue his own path. But the family also
offers support in times of crisis, for example, when his mother has a stroke.
Many readers think the central focus of Wright's story is...
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