Richard Wright’s Hunger: Analysis of Black Boy Essay

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Desires of all types plague the human mind constantly. Certain desires are obvious and necessary, such as food and water. Others are more unique to humanity, such as education, respect, and love. When something or someone seems to stand in the way of an important yearning, desire becomes hunger. Over the course of world history, minorities have been repeatedly denied some of their most basic desires. An example would be the treatment of African-Americans in the United States until the later twentieth century. In Black Boy, Richard Wright characterizes his own multi-faceted hunger that drove his life in rebellion throughout the novel.
Richard’s hunger first manifested itself in the physical sense, a condition that would dominate
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His resolve to rise above his broken beginnings persisted while many other black people essentially ceded power to the dominant white population. He was never afraid to question what shaped his life, despite opposition, and he started with his lack of sustenance. Physical hunger was a critical factor in Wright’s existence that underscored his actions and gave weight to Black Boy.
The next form of hunger that Richard encountered was one for literature which seemed to give him a release from the suffocating reality of his surroundings. His appetite for literature became a defining characteristic as the novel progressed. Though her effort was short-lived, a boarder at his Grandma’s house, Ella, gave him his first taste of reading. “As her words fell upon my new ears, I endowed them with a reality that welled up from somewhere within me…. My sense of life deepened…. The sensations the story aroused in me were never to leave me” (Wright 39). In light of Richard’s continued pursuit for knowledge critic Dykema-VanderArk reflects that, “Richard's reading opens his eyes… ‘made the look of the world different’ and let him imagine his life under different circumstances. Richard eventually recognizes that the social system of the South strives to keep black Americans from just such ways of thinking.” His craving for literature sets him apart from most of the black community surrounding him.

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