Richard Wright Character Analysis

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“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved” (Helen Keller). As in Keller’s life, black children in the early 1900s often developed distinct traits as a result of their trial: racial discrimination. Richard Wright, numbered among these children, describes his character building experiences in the autobiographical novel Black Boy. Set in the Jim Crow South, Black Boy covers Richard’s life and the burdens, success and heartache that comes with it. His character is uniquely developed as he endures family, social, and racial difficulties. Richard Wright has a diverse personality, but he is mostly intelligent, independent,…show more content…
Having grown up in a racist environment, Richard is rarely able to make decisions for himself. He feels his situation unjustified but, unlike most young blacks, he never submits to white authority. Richard reveals his desire for independence when he states, “‘Ought one to surrender to authority even if one believed that that authority was wrong? If the answer was yes, then I knew that I would always be wrong, because I could never do it. Then how could one live in a world in which one 's mind and perceptions meant nothing and authority and tradition meant everything?’” (165). Richard’s lifelong fight for independence contradicts what others perceive as acceptable, often making it difficult for Richard to get his way. His intense need for separation aids him immensely, seeing that he dreams of being his own person and paving a different path than most. Furthermore, Richard maintains his strong-willed independence throughout the time of his spiritual discovery. While his mother suffers from health issues, Richard is sent to live with his grandmother. Being a strict Christian, Granny encourages Richard to follow in her footsteps and become a dedicated member of the church. However, with his apparent desire to be independent from his family, Richard does not accept the invitation to be baptized, but rather states that, “‘wherever I found religion in my life I found strife,…show more content…
Wright’s stubbornness begins to bloom in his early childhood, and is especially brought out while in school. When Ms. Addie, Richard’s teacher and aunt, punishes him for being disrespectful in class, Richard lets his obdurate nature get the best of him: “When she had finished I continued to hold out my hand, indicating to her that her blows could never really get to me, my eyes fixed and unblinking upon her face… I was sure of one thing: I would not be beaten by her again” (107). Richard’s stubbornness makes him act as though he is feeling nothing, is in no pain. Although this trait brings him temporary sorrow from his aunt 's continued beating, it aids Richard in the long run. He is able to withstand racist and prejudice people and find success in his life. Richard’s stubbornness is obviously unceasing, as he is later unwilling to follow his principles commands. One of the top students of his school, Richard is sought out by his principle to give a concluding speech during graduation. Though it was planned for him to recite a speech written by teachers, Richard becomes excited, thinking he is given a chance to write his own talk. However when told the truth, he wilfully states that, “‘I know that I’m not educated, professor...but the people are coming to hear the students, and I won’t make a speech that you’ve written’” (175). Richard wants his own ideas to be presented and with his mind set, no
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