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Essay/Term paper: Book review on black boy

Essay, term paper, research paper:  English Composition

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TITLE: Black Boy

AUTHOR: Richard Wright

INTRODUCTION OF AUTHOR: Richard Wright was born in Natchez, Mississippi.

When he was six years old, his father, Nathan Wright deserted the family for whatever

reason. His mother, Ella, became the breadwinner of the family. Abandoned by her

husband and unable to establish economic independence from her strict mother, Ella

suffered greatly. A strong woman who faces terrible adversity, she trained Richard to be

strong and to take care of himself. Later, the feisty, independent spirit Richard developed

at home leaded him to refuse to accept the codes of behavior the white world has set for

Southern blacks. When Richard finally decided to become writer, that career represented

a declaration of independence from those in the black community.

PLOT SUMMARY: The opening chapter recounts Wright's early childhood in Natchez,

Mississippi, and his family's move to Memphis. It describes his early rebellion against

parental authority, his poverty and hunger, and his unsupervised life on the streets while

his mother is at work. Then the Wrights move to the home of Richard's Aunt Maggie. But

their pleasant life there ends when whites kill Maggie's husband. Later the threat of

violence by whites forces Maggie to flee again. Richard's mother has a stroke. Richard is

sent to his Uncle Clark's, but he is unhappy there and insists on returning to his mother's.

Richard confronts his Aunt Addie, who teaches at the Seventh-Day Adventist church

school. He also resists his grandmother's attempts to convert him to religious faith. And he

writes his first story. Richard gets a job selling newspapers but quits when he finds that

the newspapers espouse racist views. Later, his grandfather dies. Richard gets a job

working for white people. Then he is baptized in his mother's church. Finally, he has

another near-violent confrontation with a relative. Richard publishes his first story. The

reaction from his family is overwhelmingly negative. Richard becomes class valedictorian.

But he refuses to give the speech written for him by the principal. Richard has several

terrifying confrontations with whites. In the most important of these confrontations, he is

forced out of a job because he dares to ask to learn the skills of the trade. Richard learns

to steal. By stealing he acquires enough money to leave the Deep South. Richard finds a

place to stay in Memphis. The owner of his rooming house encourages him to marry her

daughter. Richard takes another job with an optical company. The foreman tries to

provoke a fight between him and a black employee of another company. Richard borrows

a library card and discovers the hard-hitting style of columnist H. L. Mencken. He begins

to read voraciously. Richard leaves for Chicago at the end of the novel.

Wright creates an image of himself as a boy who is sensitive to the external world

and to his own inner reality. He wants to bring to the white American audience what it

means to be black in the white world. It discusses the main theme which have been

occurres in many slave narratives: isolation from the mainstream society, the family"s

struggle to remain united, dreams and longing for a better future, violence both against

and by blacks, the quest for literacy and freedom. Black Boy portrays the deprivation

Wright faces growing up. It shows poverty, hunger, lack of emotional support, miserable

living conditions, and Richard's response to these difficulties. The book also considers

family life. For Richard, home is a place of intense emotional conflict, and his family forces

him to fight back constantly in order to be able to pursue his own path. But the family also

offers support in times of crisis, for example, when his mother has a stroke.

Many readers think the central focus of Wright's story is on his development into

an artist and intellectual. From this perspective, the book is about the influences that shape

Wright's desire to be a writer, the experiences that mold his creative outlook, and the

obstacles he must overcome to escape the limited environment in which he is growing up.

These readers feel that many of Wright's hardships are those of any sensitive and rebellious

individual in a world that doesn't respect those qualities. They see the novel's

conclusion less as a flight from racism and more as a move toward a new career and

identity as a writer. Which of these two major themes do you think is more central? Or are

they given equal weight?

Richard Wright was the grandson of slaves. His early life, and lives of his parents

and liberated grandparents, were devasted by the consequences of this terrible inheritance.

Black Boy was influenceed by these historical perpectives. Black slaves, brought in chains

from Africa, played a major role in laying the economic foudations of the United States.

These enslaved people were not permitted to establish bonds in the strange new land with

people they knew, but were sold and disbanded. In the early 1900s, antiblack violence

increased. Between 1910 and 1920, Southern agricuture was gripped by a severe

economic depression due to crop damage caused by flooding and the boll weevil. In those

years, about 500000 blacks moved to the North, attracked by new industrial jobs. In the

North, blacks continued to face discrimination in hiring practices and segregation in


CONCLUSION: By reading Wright"s record of childhood and youth, my understandings

about the blacks" lives increased. It provived a voice for many people who endured lives

of wretched fear and poverty in United States. Black Boy catched my interests as I read

through it. Wrights creates an image of himself as a boy who is sensitive at othe external

world and to his own inner reality. He wants to bring to the white American audience

what it means to be black in a white world. And he succeeds brilliantly. 

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