The novel Black Boy by Richard Wright exhibits the theme of race and violence. Wright goes beyond his life and digs deep in the existence of his very human being. Over the course of the vast drama of hatred, fear, and oppression, he experiences great fear of hunger and poverty. He reveals how he felt and acted in his eyes of a Negro in a white society. Throughout the work, Richard observes the deleterious effects of racism not only as it affects relations between whites and blacks, but also relations among blacks themselves. Black Boy, however, explores racism not only as an odious belief held by odious people, but also as an insidious problem knit into the very fabric of society as a whole. Growing up, Richard tried to leave behind his violent lifestyle—even when his new friends wanted him to fight. “I knew that my life was revolving about a world that I had to encounter and fight when I grew up” (Wright 125). It’s …show more content…
The story represents the culmination of Wright’s passionate desire to observe and reflect upon the racist world around him. Racism is so insidious that it prevents Richard from interacting normally, even with the whites who do treat him with a semblance of respect or with fellow blacks. For Richard, the true problem of racism is not simply that it exists, but that its roots in American culture are so deep it is doubtful whether these roots can be destroyed without destroying the culture itself. “It might have been that my tardiness in learning to sense white people as "white" people came from the fact that many of my relatives were "white"-looking people. My grandmother, who was white as any "white" person, had never looked "white" to me” (Wright 23). Wright’s critique of racism in America includes a critique of the black community itself—specifically the black folk community that is unable or unwilling to educate him properly or accept his individual personality and
In Black Boy, Richard Wright leads a difficult life, yet he is able to persevere through it. Richard has an independent personality that protects him from getting betrayed, but his stubbornness causes him trouble to adapt to a better life. His superior intelligence gives him an advantage over others and makes him think about the future more than others, but they mistreat him for it. Because of his high intelligence, he shares a different moral of equality that makes him stand alone against the whites. The unique personality and beliefs of Richard Wright, like his stubbornness to change, lead to a life of isolation that caused his actions to deviate towards conflict pushing others away.
The pages 50-51 of Wright’s Black Boy, depict the reunion of Richard and his father, twenty five years after they had last seen each other. In this event the two are shown to be “forever strangers” (Wright 51), with the father now being a sharecropper in Mississippi. Wright uses tone, imagery, and characterization to portray the difference in character between the two, caused by the environments they lived in and the way society is structured. The way Wright describes the event in terms of tone is telling of how the experiences shaped their lives in different ways.
Lastly violence is an overarching compelling force in Wright’s life. From a young age the threat of physical violence put forth upon Wright by the people he associates with is used as a form of indoctrination, in order to force him into a certain mindset or actions. For example, after Wright’s unwillingness to go to the grocery store, because of the potential danger that lurked outside, his mother tells him that, “ if you come back into this house without those groceries, I’ll whip you” (Wright 31). It is only after his mother threatened him that Wright is forced to go out and bring home the groceries. The violence as a disciplinary action concept is also seen in Wright’s life as well.
He would question people, asking about racial inequality desperate for an answer, but he never received one. Wright soon begins to see the world for what it has really come to although he still struggles to remember to act “differently” around whites, he is not able to see how African Americans are different than whites, not even thinking twice to treat whites differently. This ultimately causes problems from Wright growing up, but he desperately desired a world where he would be accepted for who he was, no matter the color of his skin or how he acted. He knows the only way he’d be able to survive as a black man is to move to the North where he believes he be able to be understood and have a more appropriate understanding of things. “The North symbolized to me all that I had not felt and seen; it had no relation whatever to what actually existed.
Most of Richard Wright’s violence occurred not for the sake of pure violence, but because he needed to defend himself against others and the injustice that he faced. Wright wasn’t inherently violent, but he saw it as a way to even the playing field against people who would abuse their authority to wrongfully punish him. For example, when Wright’s father wanted him to make the stray kitten leave, Wright used violence to protest against his father. This is seen when he states, “I knew that he had not really meant for me to kill the kitten, but my deep hate of him urged me toward a literal acceptance of his word” (Wright 11). This shows how Wright’s motive for violence wasn’t just for the sake of causing trouble, but instead, to protest against his father and what Wright saw as an abuse of power.
The abundant value of her provocative, concerning memoir is in exploring the psychological impact that racism could make on an individual, spreading a stain of self-doubt and self-hatred that, shared with lack of opportunities, abets black people in collectively destroying themselves all together. Drugs and violence, the disintegration of families and a range of other social difficulties are traced back to this common afflicted root. In Men We Reaped, Ward grapples with the self-condemnation: “We tried to ignore it, but sometimes we caught ourselves repeating what history said, mumbling along, brainwashed: I am nothing. We drank too much, smoked too much, were abusive to ourselves, to each other. We were bewildered.”
In Richard’s Wright short story “Big Black Good Man” The role of bigotry and prejudice has apparently been separated from society. It was to be as awful as a full out isolation of schools or simply hidden reflections. The storyteller has a restricted omniscient perspective. This gives us awesome knowledge into what the principle character Olaf Jenson feelings are towards the other character Jim in this epic story. Richard Wright completed an awesome activity of giving us an insight of what the average black man faced back then and now today, a case of the normal bigoted.
Critical Analysis - People...and Their Stereotypes A frequent element in the Black Boy novel is also a notable, debatable issue in socialization--race. Race has been unfortunately associated with stereotypes. Not only do stereotypes bring negativity to racial groups, but also the racism between white people and black people, and the 1861 American Civil War. In Black Boy, Richard ends up meeting whites as he is on his journey, and many are known to be brash, mainly how some put a tone of aggression towards him.
The historical memoir of Richard Wright, Black Boy, frequently used motifs to demonstrate a common theme. The most prominent one was hunger, which represented the need for food and the eagerness to escape the restraints of the segregated South. During the early to mid 90’s, the southern United States was in a time period of severe prejudices, which promoted violence and inequality against the African Americans. In effect to this, Richard was always desperately hungry throughout his childhood, both literally and figuratively. For African Americans of this time period, employment was hard to come by and paid next to nothing.
Although Wright does not fully understand the way segregation works, he must demonstrate his hatred for the white folk in order to be accepted by his peers. As Wright grows older, he begins to conform to the ideas set by his society, “We were now larger enough for the white boys to fear us and both of us, the white boys and the black boys, began to play our traditional racial roles as though we had been born to them, as though it was in our blood, as though we were being guided by
The freedman and abolitionist Frederick Douglass said, “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” Although Frederick Douglass lived before the time Richard Wright lived, Wright’s autobiography Black Boy is still reminiscent of enforced poverty, ignorance, and oppression. Richard Wright lived in extreme poverty, faced ignorant people, and encountered black opposition everywhere he went. Also, the PBS documentary “Slavery By Another Name” is a prime example as to how white people were able to criminalize black people into enforced poverty and slavery.
From the time when he was almost abused to death by his mother and father at the age of four, to his young adult life where he was verbally and physically tormented by his white counterparts, Richard Wright fought through life, struggle by violent struggle. As an African American living in the South, struggle is a day to day battle. For Richard, one of the struggles is violence, and being that he was born and raised in the South, he doesn't know anything different. Violence, whether it be verbal or physical, is something that many southern African Americans faced. This struggle debilitated Richard throughout his adolescence, and it poisoned his views of white people, religion, and the South.
I’m no dog or rooster”(Wright 240). His own morals keep him from inflicting unjustified violence upon someone else, unlike how his family treats him. Altogether, nature versus nurture proves to be an underlying theme in the autobiography Black Boy by Richard Wright. Wright demonstrates resilience against his family’s beliefs, refusing to be influenced by anything except his own experiences and himself.
Black Boy delves into the upbringing of Richard Wright, who comes from an impecunious and broken home. He illustrates that the absence of a father figure can result in an abrupt end to one’s childhood, and the early start of adulthood, where new responsibilities must be met. When Richard is ordered to get food for his family, he gets accosted and robbed by a gang in his neighborhood. As he returns to the store once again, he “kept [his] stick poised for instant use…that night [he] won the right to the streets of Memphis”(Pg 25). In other words, Richard was forced to withstand danger and learn how to defend himself with the means of providing food to his family.