It follows young Richard through his youth, examining the hardships and obstacles faced by both him and his poverty-stricken family. Boy also shows a hunger in Richard not just for food but for acceptance, love and a sense of understanding about what is happening around him but most importantly he is seeking knowledge. Richard uses writing to explore and expand his mind but Richard discovers through an epiphany that writing will help him break out from the constraining worlds of racism, poverty and family.
Throughout his life, Richard faces the need for a loving family to help and encourage him, but his family in a way, unknowingly help to form his independence. Throughout his youth, he faced the need to be independent. She does this only to make him strong and independent because she believes that this is only way not to be eaten up by the world.
The social difference between African Americans and Caucasian society is quite evident in the book. Richard is continuously beaten both bodily and emotionally by white people who feel a sense of superiority being they are White and feel they have the born right to this black boy like nobody.
The Novel gives a vivid depiction of this harsh treatment. Wright receives a job working at an optical shop in Jackson, and he is excited to learn all about the craft, there are two white men who are working there and refuse to teach him the craft. Ironically Wright meets he meets the first white man who has ever shown an ounce of a heart. This man is Mr. Crane, the owner of the optical shop. Richard realizes that there are people specifically white people who do not make colored people out to be an abomination.
He is passionate and yearns to read and write. He is hungry for knowledge and making the world a better place. Wright is never fully accepted even amongst his own people. When he is around other black boys they seem to be in confusion of Wright and he feels the same way towards them.
Richard never settles to be normal. When Richard becomes associated with a group of communists, he decides to rebel against them even though he is alone and he knows that they will try and fight him. Instead of being ignorant to their cause Wright does some research for himself to. The communist do not always accept him, but they do fear his unresolved to change his values.
Richard is the independent member of the party, the only one who is willing to share his real thoughts and says what he feels no matter who is around if he feels something is unjust even if he will be by himself in his own corner. This drive for wanting to learn and know more is what sets him apart from everyone also causing the distance he has with others. Wright cares not for people but words.
Seeking knowledge gives Richard a sense of purpose and direction in his life. This hunger causes him get an immense curiosity in the world. He begins to see his world for what it is but still questioned why, why the racial gap between blacks and whites.
At a young age he questioned many adults around him, but never got an answer but rather harsh treatment for asking. At the same time, he was viewed as a boy, one who waited for and obeyed orders before he acted.
The irony of this is that Richard quite clearly never did have a childhood, in the sense of a time free of responsibility or fears. His sensitivity to experience made him a man almost at birth. In the pre-individualistic, Jim Crow society he grew up in, Richard was considered evil and irrepressible. It is important to view his autobiography in historical terms in order to understand its full significance.
With the arrival of the first slaves in the seventeenth century came a culture that would be the ultimate test of the American dream. The first slaves brought with them from Africa many different ways of worshipping God and different idioms, but a common language. They also brought with them a life style which emphasized community before individualism.
Under slavery these people, with their strong cultural backgrounds, were forced to absorb many of the Western customs, and they consequently evolved a culture which was completely unique the Afro-American culture.
The devastating consequences of slavery were many, and in the two centuries preceding the Civil War, black people were integrated into society only by rape. They were disbanded, sold, and castrated by their masters. Whatever sense of community had come to these shores with them was subjected to the severest tests.
One of the inevitable results was a family structure not based on blood ties, but on a larger sense of brotherhood; another result was an almost complete sense of alienation from white society. Yet another offspring of slavery was an original art form the Blues which incorporated African cultural forms both linguistic and musical with Western forms.
It wasn't until the beginning of the twentieth century that the first Blues recordings were made and that extraordinary art form was discovered by white America. The Blues had traveled underground for many years.
During the Civil War, the Blues singers were like modern troubadours traveling from city to city. These poets described the effects of the war, its aftermath, the liberation of the slaves, and the work on the railroads; they described the cities and the lives within them. The songs were necessarily sad, with themes of abandonment and loneliness. The form of the Blues has since gone through many transformations, but it is always recognizable by its tone of irony and sorrow.
When Richard Wright was growing up and when he moved North, the Blues had come up from underground and set the pace of the times. Louis Armstrong, Mamie Smith, and Bessie Smith all sang of that era and its significance for the many blacks moving into the northern ghettos. Unlike their rural predecessors Sonny Terry and Big Bill Broonzy the new Blues singers dealt primarily with urban life. Therefore, just as the spiritual music of the South inspired Wright, the Blues influenced the tone of his recollections.
His portrait of his father is particularly relevant to that era, as is his picture of his mother, her sickness, and his grandfather's death. These are standard examples of black experiences in the beginning of this century.
And just as the Blues is expressed as a tone in Black Boy, folklore is expressed as a style. Every culture has its folklore, which precedes and often influences the first stages of its literature. Folklore consists of stories taken from real experience, common to the group involved, and passed on by word of mouth until the story reaches the proportion of legend.
Like a joke, its origins are unknown. Much of its effect is sustained by the use of dialect and references to particular group rituals. Folklore is intended to be understood only by the people in the given group, and therefore it has a cultish quality that is not conducive to reaching large audiences of people.
In Black Boy and certainly in a great deal of literature that came before it, folklore is a natural offspring of the social climate. Since black people were set apart from the large body of Americans, Wright expected much of his autobiography to be instantly understood by blacks, but only intellectually grasped by whites.
In the incidents related to his family life in particular, this is the case. There are certain things he doesn't bother to explain because he assumes his reader will understand what he is saying. For this reason, the love between him and his mother and brother is not mentioned.
Instead, he talks about only the qualities of his home life which disturb him. He takes it for granted that his black reader will know that affection exists between them. But the absence of its expression gives the book a barren and cynical tone which whites sometimes mistake for general ill will. It must be said that this question of familial love has been a preoccupation of many other black writers. One of the many effects of slavery and pre-individualism was the repression of love between members of one family.
Love was dangerous because at any time the family might be broken apart. It was dangerous because it involved an acknowledgment of individual worth. If you love your people, you are going to fight for them. Its absence among the blacks in Wright's childhood is not surprising therefore. The absence of love in his book will not confuse black readers.
Just as the Blues is expressed as a tone of nostalgia and irony, the book's very existence is an act of love. For while it seems that Wright is interested only in escaping from his home, there is ambiguity in his flight. He is, as an artist, obsessed by his own origins. The fact that he finally left the United States for good did not mean that he was in spiritual, as well as physical, exile.
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Apr 23, · Black Boy - Richard Wright's Portrayal of Himself Black Boy, an autobiography by Richard Wright, is an account of a young African-American boy's thoughts and outlooks on life in the South while growing up. Essays and criticism on Richard Wright's Black Boy: A Record of Childhood and Youth - Critical Essays.
Black Boy Black Boy is a story written in first person through the black boy's eyes. The story opens with the black boy cleaning eyeglasses at 4/4(1). Starting an essay on Richard Wright's Black Boy? Organize your thoughts and more at our handy-dandy Shmoop Writing Lab.