Richard Wright's Big Boy Leaves Home Essay

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Richard Wright's Big Boy Leaves Home Richard Wright’s “Big Boy Leaves Home” addresses several issues through its main character and eventual (though reluctant) hero Big Boy. Through allusions to survival and primal instincts, Wright confronts everything from escaping racism and the transportation (both literal and figurative) Big Boy needs to do so, as well as the multiple sacrifices of Bobo. Big Boy’s escape symbolizes both his departure from his home life and his childhood. Big Boy, unlike his friends, does not have a true name. This namelessness drives his journey, and Big Boy is constantly singled out in one way or another. The moniker ‘Big Boy’ is a contradiction—is he a large boy or is he a grown man?—and drives all of Big…show more content…
The boys follow Big Boy and give him their attention mainly because they have to; he is bigger than them and quickly becomes the leader of Bobo after the deaths of the other boys. Also, this “train” of boys is indeed headed for Glory, though they “burst out laughing” when they think of it. The physical train is a metaphor for the escape to the vaunted North (a land the boys assume they will never see). This is important to the text because it sets up Big Boy’s escape to Chicago later in the story. The image of the train appears several times; including when Big Boy heads home for the final time. “Big Boy slowed when he came to the railroad. He wondered if he ought to go through the streets or down the track. He decided on the tracks. He could dodge a train better than a mob.” In this section, the train serves as the carrier of Big Boy’s adulthood. By staying on the tracks he believes he is still innocent; still hidden from the mob that is after Big Boy because he murdered—certainly a crime not associated with youthful innocence. Because Big Boy is black, he never really has true innocence. He has to be mindful of his surroundings at all times, knowing that whites are always out to get him. But whatever
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