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Black Boy (American Hunger): a Record of Childhood and Youth”,

  • Date Submitted: 01/18/2011 03:53 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 58.9 
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Richard Wright’s autobiographical book entitled “Black Boy (American Hunger): A Record of Childhood and Youth”, explored many of the obstacles that Richard Wright faced throughout his life. Published by Harpers and Brothers in 1945, Wright narrates his journey and experiences growing up in the Jim Crow South, and having to come of age during such a racial charged period in black history, from early childhood to about age twenty-nine.
    “Black Boy (American Hunger): A Record of Childhood and Youth”, begins on a winter morning in Richard’s grandparents’ house in Natchez Mississippi. His story starts with a four- year old Richard unintentionally setting his grandparents house ablaze, due to boredom. As a result of him being instructed by his mother to be quiet due to his grandmother’s illness, Richard playing with straw in the fireplace, single-handily destroyed his family’s home (Chapter 1, Pgs. 1-5).   When Richard’s family moves to Memphis, Tennessee by traveling on boat (Kate Adams), his father becomes a night porter in a drugstore. When a stray kitten becomes an annoyance to Richard’s father, he tells Richard to kill it. Richard took his words literally and he kills the cat, which was an act to rebel against his father’s imperious character, which only angered his parents even further (Chapter 1, Pgs. 10-14). Richard’s father then abandons his family, which leaves Richard’s mother to work as a cook for a white family (Chapter 1, Pg. 16). This then leads Richard to become a six-year-old alcoholic (Chapter 1, Pgs. 20-22) and the overcoming of his fear of the gang of boys (Chapter 1,Pgs. 16-18) .One motif that is now introduced into the story is hunger (Chapter 1, Pgs. 14-16). Richard’s actions show his incapability to meet his friends’, family, and society’s expectations and in response, Richard is punished. Wright emphasizes hunger throughout the book, as well as for other things- literature, an engagement in social and political issues, and artistic...


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