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"We define culture,culture defines us." - Tigris

Analysis of Richard Wright's Black Boy

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 03:30 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 68.5 
  • Words: 576
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Childhood is suppose to be years full of carefree enjoyment; however, in Richard Wright’s autobiography about growing up black in the south during the early 1920’s this image is shattered.   Throughout the book, Richard paints a picture of poverty, hopelessness, and despair.   One of his earliest memories is when he started a fire in his house.   Richard writes about his punishment from his mother, “I was lashed so hard and long that I lost consciousness.   I was beaten out of my senses and later I found myself in bed, screaming, determined to run away, tussling with my mother and father who were trying to keep me still.   I was lost in a fog of fear.”   When the family moves to Memphis, some neighborhood boys robbed Richard repeatedly.   His mother refused to let him back in the house until he stood up for himself.   “I was alone upon the dark, hostile streets and gangs were after me.   I had the choice of being beaten at home or away from home.” writes Richard.   He further states that “The neighborhood swarmed with rats, cats, dogs, fortune-tellers, cripples, blind men, whores, salesmen, rent collectors, and children.”   After Richard’s father left them, his mother could not support Richard and his brother so they had to live in an orphanage for awhile.   He had to work in a field all day and had little to eat.   Even as Richard got older, his life remained bleak and he felt alienated from his own race.   Richard tells how white co-workers manipulated him and another black youth into fighting.   He writes, “Each of us depended upon the whites for the bread we ate, and we actually trusted the whites more than we did each other.   Yet there existed in us a longing to trust men of our own color.”  

Feelings of deep hunger tormented Richard.   His body, mind, and soul all hungered for different things. He first meets extreme physical hunger when his father abandons the family. Richard writes “Hunger had always been more or less at my elbow when I played, but now I began to...


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