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An interpretation of black boy by richard wright

Literary Analysis You are here: It follows him through his youth, examining the hardships and obstacles faced by both Wright and his family. Beyond this, Black Boy is a story about a life-long struggle with hunger. Wright suffers from hunger his entire life, not only for food but also for acceptance, love, and an understanding of the world around him; but most importantly, Wright possesses an insatiable hunger for knowledge.

His family was never able to provide everything that a family is supposed to, such as love, security and acceptance. In fact, the majority of their interactions are the exact opposite of this. The adults in his family often argued with him, and prefer to have as little contact with him as possible. His struggles with his family are epitomized during his struggles with his Aunt Addie.

Richard Wright’s “Black Boy”: Literary Analysis

As his schoolteacher, she is able to make doubly difficult for him, such as when she accuses him of leaving shells all over the floor in school. She punishes him at school, and then tries to punish him a second time at home when she finds out that he really did not left the shells there but would not tell her who had. The altercation resulted in Aunt Addie refusing to speak to Wright, to which he responded: On the rare occasions that they are amicable with him, Wright cannot trust their motives, and it therefore pushes him further out of the family.

Wright is never fully able to satisfy the hunger for acceptance, even amongst his peers. The other African-American boys he comes across are never able to understand Wright and his attitude, nor he theirs.

As a result, he is never able to really fit in. Although Wright desires to fit in socially, his inability to concede to their point of view makes this impossible. I had been kept out of their world too long to ever be able to become a real part of it. His interactions with other blacks in the South often leave him frustrated with both himself and others. After one incident, he states: He explains this by saying: I held myself in, afraid to act or speak until I was sure of my surroundings, feeling most of the time that I was suspended over a void.

A large part of why Wright could not understand his peers was his inability to understand the racial gap between blacks and whites.

  1. His struggles with his family are epitomized during his struggles with his Aunt Addie. Am I damning my native land?
  2. However this questioning never stops his hunger for further knowledge, as evident in the following.
  3. He is never able to receive a consistent formal education, and the formal education he does receive is sub-standard and rife with contention. This causes problems for Wright while he is growing up, particularly when it comes to securing and maintaining a job.
  4. With regards to this, Wright states.
  5. Pease, Reynolds, and Olin believe that black people exist merely for the service and sport of white people, leading them to treat Richard with shocking inhumanity. Davis identifies three themes in Black Boy.

He explains by saying: He questions the adults around him, asking them about the racial inequalities he sees and why they have come to be, but is never able to receive any answers. In fact, he is typically punished for asking these questions. Because he is never able to receive any valid answers, Wright is still unable to accept the treatment he receives. He constantly challenges the system he lives in, questioning those around him at every opportunity possible.

He wants to know: What kind of life was possible under that hate? How had this hate come to be? He begins to see his world more for what it is, but still struggles to remember to act differently around white people. He himself does not see how white people are so different than blacks, and therefore does not think to treat them differently. This causes problems for Wright while he is growing up, particularly when it comes to securing and maintaining a job. His difficulties with the whites of the South an interpretation of black boy by richard wright greatly discouraging, and Wright constantly craves a world where he would be accepted regardless of his skin color.

He knows that the only way he could survive as a black man in that time would be to move to the North, where the world is one he thinks he will be able to better comprehend.

This hope follows him everywhere, and although he does not understand the environment he is forced to endure living in during his youth, it makes him believe that at some point he will be able to live in an environment that is comprehensible to him. This hunger sets him apart from those around him, which drives the wedge created by their differences further between them. The hunger starts growing at a young age, with his first real bite of knowledge coming from a coal man teaching him how to count to a hundred.

His next substantial bite comes from a schoolteacher named Ella reading him a story; this is where the hunger really begins to grow.

Black Boy: A character analysis of Richard Wright

About this he wrote: As she spoke, reality changed, the look of things altered, and the world became peopled with magical presences. My sense of life deepened and the feel of things was different, somehow….

  • His interactions with other blacks in the South often leave him frustrated with both himself and others;
  • Wright suffers from hunger his entire life, not only for food but also for acceptance, love, and an understanding of the world around him; but most importantly, Wright possesses an insatiable hunger for knowledge;
  • As we see, Richard always rejects the call to conform.

The sensations the story aroused in me were never to leave me. His hunger for knowledge is immense, yet Wright is never really allotted the opportunity for a decent formal education. His instability at home forces him to miss many years of school, which he makes up for by ascertaining a different form of education on the streets.

There he discovers a new language with more emphasis on cuss words and other profane language learns how to put on a mask of indifference, and how to fight. He is able to observe some of the ways of the world, and sometimes participate, all the while never fully understanding exactly why things are wrought with so much inequality.

The street is not his only cruel classroom, and schools themselves often provide Wright with this cold dose of reality. One such environment is the religious school that Aunt Addie teaches at. Here, Wrights family problems clash with his hunger for knowledge, leaving him detached and unmotivated.

Eventually he is able to return to public schooling, where his interest and drive help him excel, but his family never supports this sentiment and makes it difficult for him to maintain his studies. During the last of his formal education, things are so strict at home that Wright skips meals in order to stay away for longer hours. With regards to this, Wright states: He is never able to receive a consistent formal education, and the formal education he does receive is sub-standard and rife with contention.

In spite of this, Wright always continues to learn, and his thirst for knowledge continues to grow.

  1. His difficulties with the whites of the South are greatly discouraging, and Wright constantly craves a world where he would be accepted regardless of his skin color. Pease, Reynolds, and Olin believe that black people exist merely for the service and sport of white people, leading them to treat Richard with shocking inhumanity.
  2. On the rare occasions that they are amicable with him, Wright cannot trust their motives, and it therefore pushes him further out of the family. Granny, Addie, Tom, Pease, Reynolds, Olin, Ed Green, Buddy Nealson are all characters who ascribe to inflexible attitudes and beliefs that do not accommodate differing opinions from independently minded people like Richard.
  3. Needless to say, neither option satisfies him, so he forges his own middle path. His instability at home forces him to miss many years of school, which he makes up for by ascertaining a different form of education on the streets.
  4. Growing up in an abusive family environment in the racially segregated and violent American South, Richard finds his salvation in reading, writing, and thinking.
  5. Davis identifies three themes in Black Boy. His new understanding of the world intensifies his desire for a better life, and forces him to question himself.

After fleeing to Memphis an interpretation of black boy by richard wright order to escape the oppressive environment in Jackson, Wright begins to read anything he can obtain. At one point he meets a sympathetic Jewish man who lends him his library card, and Wright is able to feed his hunger. These books open up his world, and change him forever. His new understanding of the world intensifies his desire for a better life, and forces him to question himself.

However this questioning never stops his hunger for further knowledge, as evident in the following: I grew silent, wondering about the life around me… Could I ever learn about life and people? To me, with my vast ignorance…it seemed a task impossible of achievement…I had learned to live with hate.

But to feel that there were feelings denied me, that the very breath of life itself was beyond my reach, that more than anything else hurt, wounded me…I felt trapped and occasionally, for a few days, I would stop reading. The more he feeds his hungers with knowledge, the more ravenous those hungers grow. Each morsel of knowledge enlightens him to a world he has no experience with, which serves to create further questions about the world in which he is entrenched.

His acquired knowledge about the many possibilities that life could possibly have held for him expands the hunger for a world that he can understand and could therefore accept him.