In Richard Wright’s autobiography Black Boy, he expresses his life in a string of dramatic events of his emotional, mental and spiritual struggle. He has to pay a bigger price compared to the whites so that his family and himself can survive in the Jim Crow South. He expresses his suffering in a world where most people are against him. Richard goes through many traumatic events, but through these, he learns more about how to survive. Richard’s cost of living included many instances of fighting, lose his job, and even loses parts of his dignity. Only at the age of six, Richard’s mother told him to go grocery shopping. On the way to the store, he was beaten up by a group of gang kids that took his money and ran off, making Richard go …show more content…
This is the unfortunate cost that Richard had to pay as a black man in the Jim Crow South. Richard has not been the only person of color to be beaten, under unreasonable circumstances, and write about it. LeRoy Boyd told a story about how a black person had said something to a white man that the white man was displeased from. The white man then proceeded to grab an axe handle and hit the black person with it: “ He picked up an axe handle and busted him. The white man busted him. Hit him right along there”(Chafe 121). This is how life was for many black people in the south facing against the white people. Once Richard left his job at the clothing store, he quickly got a new job at an optical company because of his friend Griggs. He worked there to clean the lenses after they were put through the polishing machines. At this job, Richard received very harsh and violent harassment by two of his white coworkers, Mr. Pease and Mr. Reynolds. Richard miscalled Mr. Pease by saying that his name was Pease, Mr. Pease found this offending and unacceptable for a black boy to call him by his nickname and not proper name: “‘I heard you call ‘im Pease. And if you say you didn’t, you’re calling me a liar, see?’ He waved the steel bar threateningly”(189). After this event, he had to pay the cost of living by quitting his job. Richard keeping a job was crucial for his family to have a home and food. For Richard to live and not be killed for misnaming a white man, he has to sacrifice
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He wants his readers to imagine the pain and humiliation of the ill treatment that African Americans endure on a daily basis. King writes of vicious mobs lynching people’s mothers and fathers, policemen killing people’s brothers and sisters, a man and his wife not receiving the proper respect they deserve because of their skin color, and the notion that African Americans feel insignificant within their communities; this is why these peaceful demonstrators of whom the clergymen attack “find it difficult to wait” (King, 20). However, King believes that soon, injustice will be exposed, like “a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up” (King, 30). This vivid description helps arouse an emotional response, driving shame into the hearts of his white readers.
Richard did not understand until later that the black community discouraged his rebellious ways because following the expectations of whites was a way to ensure survival of the community. A rebellious act of one black not only put his or her life in danger, but also his or her family and the entire black community. Richard’s need to conform to the rules of the white society for survival and his need to rebel in order to achieve his humanity and individuality was a tension that infested him daily.
Throughout the book, Richard shows ignorance when it comes to race issues. He often doesn't know how to respond or act when he is being harassed about his race. This ignorance comes from his family refusing to tell him about what was happening in the world when he was a child. At one point, his mother even slapped him for asking about why there was segregation and about why his grandmother is “white” (46-48). These events and actions in his youth would lead to him being ignorant of these issues in his adulthood, which would lead to Richard being isolated from both the black and the white communities. First, one example of his separation from the black community is when Richard refuses to steal from white people. “More than once I had been called a ‘dumb nigger’ by black boys who discovered that I had not availed myself of a chance to snatch some petty piece of white property that had been carelessly left within my reach”(199). The other boys call Richard out because he refuses to steal. He does this because he was raised not to steal from white people while the other boys were raised to take advantage of their position in life and use it to their advantage. This gap between knowledge of how one should act leads to Richard being isolated from the other boys and others in the black community. Likewise, Richard ignorance of race issues leads to a rift between him and the white community.
2. The novel “Black Boy” by Richard Wright is structured into twenty chapters and two parts. Part one is about Richard Wright childhood and growing up in a difficult time where whites are cruel to all African Americans. Part two focuses more on Richard’s life as an adult and how he struggles to maintain a good job. The story starts from when he is a young child and to when he is an adult.
The poor Black sharecroppers were frequently browbeaten in their hard work to collect payment for their cotton crops. The whites didn’t like that the blacks were receiving a higher amount of wages than them, so the whites attacked such consolidation that was done by blacks, and the two groups swapped firing into the night. The two white men procured it upon themselves to show up, one was a deputy sheriff, and the other was a railroad employee who attended it. It was all after that, that the combat had taken place. The escorts who were standing shot one of the white men. It resulted in the death of one of the white officers. A black executor
“Whenever my environment had failed to support or nourish me, I had clutched at books.” –Richard Wright, Black Boy. The author suffered and lived through an isolated society, where books were the only option for him to escape the reality of the world. Wright wrote this fictionalized book about his childhood and adulthood to portray the dark and cruel civilization and to illustrate the difficulties that blacks had, living in a world run by whites.
The discriminating social stratification in 1950’s developed a set of servile behavior on the blacks. They were thought to be inferior to whites, and were treated accordingly. Moreover, different parts of the country had various ranges of sensitivities while dealing with the blacks. For example, in Mississippi things were particularly tense after the Parker lynch case. No black man would dare look into any white man’s eyes in fear of the repercussions. On the bus, a man warned Griffin to watch himself closely until he caught onto Mississippi’s ways. In an extreme case like this, it was vital to learn about their roles and behave accordingly.
The book captures the influential upbringing William “Bill” Felton Russell had and how the philosophies and culture he was immersed in shaped who he was. He grew up during the 1930s-1940s in West Monroe, Louisiana - a town that, at the time, had minimal blacks living there. While the town itself was relatively peaceful in terms of racial tension, surrounding areas did not adopt the same views. One day when Bill and his older brother Chuck were tossing pebbles at one another, a stray stone hit a passing car being driven by a white man. The man called Bill a “nigger” and threatened to hang him. As Bill recalls, “I ran off, half angry, half laughing.” This shows the almost humorous perspective some blacks during this time had about the “white power.” Often, there is a notion that blacks during the Jim Crow era were in constant fear of whites. While this was true, some blacks, such as the Russell family, opposed, laughed, and scoffed at this idea.
In his autobiographical work, Black Boy, Richard Wright wrote about his battles with hunger, abuse, and racism in the south during the early 1900's. Wright was a gifted author with a passion for writing that refused to be squelched, even when he was a young boy. To convey his attitude toward the importance of language as a key to identity and social acceptance, Wright used rhetorical techniques such as rhetorical appeals and diction.
"If a white man defaulted, it was an individual defection; if a colored man failed, the whole race was at fault." (p. 138) Robert was shot in the head during the war and the injury contributed to his blindness later in life. Even so, he was denied his request for a pension because of race. Robert was very focused on educating his children into becoming outstanding members of both the black and white communities to promote a positive reflection on the black community. Robert’s struggle to secure an identity for himself and his children underlines the social discrepancies that define this
"Whenever I thought of the essential bleakness of black life in America, I knew that Negroes had never been allowed to catch the full spirit of Western civilization, that they lived somehow in it but not of it. And when I brooded upon the cultural barrenness of black life, I wondered if clean, positive tenderness, love, honor, loyalty, and the capacity to remember were native with man. I asked myself if these human qualities were not fostered, won, struggled and suffered for, preserved in ritual from one generation to another." This passage written in Black Boy, the autobiography of Richard Wright shows the disadvantages of Black people in the 1930's. A man of many words, Richard Wrights is the father of the modern
This is an example of how the black men in America were treated back then.
Throughout the book Black Boy by Richard Wright sheds light on the interesting life of the writers personal memories. Richard is living in a community coming out of slavery as a first generation feeling freedom. His life starts off at a young age and spans through till his days as a successful writer. Many motifs throughout his life repeats in his writing topics. During his years fire is a common perspection expressed in many metaphorical ways and physical, this expression extends to his educational, religious, and psychological mindsets.
Black Boy is a denunciation of racism and his conservative, austere family. As a child growing up in the South, Richard Wright faced constant pressure to submit to white authority, as well as to his family’s violence. However, even from an early age, Richard had a spirit of rebellion. His refusal of punishments earned him harder beatings. Had he been weaker amidst the racist South, he would not have succeeded as a writer.