Black Boy Research Paper
The book Black Boy would not attract me by its cover, it’s simple and plain. Nonetheless, I’ve try to read the book, and I was immediately disgust by Richard’s foolish action and thoughts. I wanted to put the book down right away, but my curiosity urged me to move on. My decision did not disappoint me, Richard eventually developed moral and he began to think like a normal person. Richard’s positive experience, and negative experience all seems to be linked with his urge for literature. His link with literature seems to became that factor that affects his future. Richard’s road of life encourages the readers to go for their goal. His life shows us that life is full of opportunities, if you try hard enough, nothing would be impossible.
The plot in Black Boy reminds me of other books. The book Doomed Queen Anne was also about the process of a main character growing into someone different than she once was. Her condition was as bad as Richard’s, there was no one to support her, she was on her own. She lived in a better environment than Richard but her struggle emotionally as much as Richard did.. Unlike Richard, the female main character’s personalities grow in a negative way, leading her fate to a cruel end. Another book, Ivy was a book describing the life of a girl who have never had anyone to support her. Ivy lived in an environment as bad as the one Richard live under. At least Richard has a mother who believes in him, but nobody care about Ivy nor did they care about her existence. Luckily, Ivy did not think much of the condition she was under, she did not bother to think about the pain. Like Richard, Ivy was present with many opportunities, she gave them a try and find what she was looking for.
Richard was an ignorant kid who didn’t care much about other people nor about himself. Luckily, he then experience accidents that pushed him to change his careless way of thinking.
How does Richard learn from his experience and apply them in life? To begin to answer this, let’s turn to chapter 1 in the book, specifically on page 22.
In this scene Richard hang a cat to death in order to get back at his father:
“How could I hit back at him? Oh, yes…. He had said to kill the kitten and I would kill it! I knew that he had not really meant for me to kill the kitten, but my deep hate of him urged me toward a literal acceptance of his word”
Richard’s mother knew Richard’s purpose in hanging the kitten, and she wanted to him to feel the guilt in doing what he has done (page24):
“But my mother, being more imaginative, retaliated with an assault upon my sensibilities that crushed me with the moral horror involved in taking a life. All that afternoon she directed toward me calculated words that spawned in my mind a horde of invisible demons bent upon exacting vengeance for what I had done. As evening drew near, anxiety filled me and I was afraid to go into an empty room alone”
Richard’s father wanted to sleep, but the existence of a kitten create noise that disturbed him from his sleep. Richard’s father yelled at Richard and his brother, he demanded that they do anything including “killing” the kitten to get it away. Richard wanted his father to feel the resentment he felt, so he decided to hang the kitten. Richard’s mother found out about the dead kitten and she taught Richard a lesson by forcing Richard to feel the moral consequence after killing the kitten. Richard, himself did not see anything wrong in killing the kitten, he have to be told that it is wrong. In this scene, Richard learnt of moral, not through the understanding of moral itself, but through fear of the consequences.
On page 281 Richard experience another type of incident and learn from it::
“Well, that’s good enough for you, you fool. You had no business monekying in that liquor business anyway. Then I stopped in my tracks. They had been together! The white man and the black boy had been together! The white man and the black boy had seen me loitering in the vicinity of their liquor and had thought I was a highjacker; and they had used me in disposing of their liquor”
In this section of the book, Richard met a boy who ran away from home. As they walked together they found some fake liquor, the ran away boy suggest that they sell the liquor. Richard agree to the suggestion and they found a dealer. Richard and the boy moved the liquor into the dealer’s car, and dealer pay the boy. The boy went to a store get change, so he can split the money with Richard. However the boy never came back and Richard found out that the boy left the store through the back door. Richard soon realized (as the quote above has mention), that the boy and the dealer worked together to fool Richard into moving the liquor for them. Richard view selling the unknown liquor as a sort of income to help lessen his burden, but he did not realize the trap in store for him since he is a simple minded person. This experience taught Richard that reward should only be obtain through hard work, no reward will be obtain by an “opportunity”. In addition, through this experience he learn to watch out for himself more carefully.
Richard learned to face and overcome problems as he or someone else push him to his limit.
An example of how Richard struggle pass his limited is show on page 31:
“ 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. I clutched the stick, crying, trying to reason. If I were beaten at home, there was absolutely nothing that I could do about it; but if I were beaten in the street, I had a chance to fight and defend myself. I walked slowly down the sidewalk, coming closer to the gang of boys, holding the stick tightly.”
This scene take place after Richard moved to a new neighborhood. Richard’s mother asked Richard to buy groceries, but every time Richard went near the grocery store he would get beaten by a gang of boys. He ran home, his mother would give him more money for him to buy the groceries and he would get beat again. The pattern keeps on continuing until Richard begged his mother to let him stay home. His mother gave him money and a stick, and she shut the door. She left him with no choice, if he walks into the house he would get beaten by her; if he walks up the street he would get beaten by the boys. He chose to walk up the street, at least he have a chance if he fight the boys. Richard eventually solved the problem with the boys, even though it was through violent. Richard would have already given up if it wasn’t for the push his mother gave. His mother’s push made Richard reach over what he thought was his limit, she lead him to overcome his fear by blocking his road to escape (by shutting the door). Through such experience, Richard learnt to face the problem by reaching out of his limit, instead of trying to escape.
Under another similar situation, Richard push through his limit and learn that power will gather people’s admiration and power will allow him to protect himself. The victories in fight symbolize power in this scene.
On Page 119, Richard thought to himself:
“This was my test. If I fail now, I would have fail at school, for the fist trial came not in books, but in how one’s fellows took one, what value they placed upon one’s willingness to fight.
After Richard gain his taste of power by winning a fight in school, he make use of power to defend himself (Page 120):
“On my way home I found a cheap ring in the streets and at once I knew what I was going to do with it. The ring had a red stone held by tiny prongs which I loosened, took the stone out, leaving the sharp ting prongs jutting up. I sild the ring on to my finger and shadow boxed. Now, by god, let a goddamn bully come and I would show him how to fight; I would leave a crimson treak on his face with each blow.”
In this section of the book, Richard was send to another new place to live. Status at school becomes a problem for him. He was new, he was picked on but he try to avoid fighting the bullies. The bullies left him with no choice as they repetitively pick on him to attack because of his new comer status. As a result, Richard fought the bullies, and he won. He soon gain attention, his victory became a protection toward further bullying. He learnt that winning gain him power and people’s admiration, he also know that his reputation in fight can serve as a shield to prevent further bulling.
Richard use what he has learn as a way to defend himself, but the only ways he know how to defend himself was through fighting. The next two scenes gave example to how Richard apply what he learned.
Page 140 described how Richard fought his unreasonable aunt to protect himself:
“She stood debating. Then she made up her mind and came at me. I lunged at her with the knife and she grasped my hand and tried to twist the knife loose. I threw my right leg about her legs and gave her a shove, tripping her, we crashed to the floor. She was stronger than I and I felt my strength ebbing; she was still fighting for my knife and I saw a look a on her face that made me feel she was going to use it on me if she got possession of it. I bit her hand and we rolled, kicking, scratching, hitting, fighting as though we were were strangers, deadly enemies, fighting for our lives.”
While Richard was living in his grandmother’s house, his Aunt Addie would try to whip him every so often. His aunt were unreasonable, she would whip him for no good reason. In fact, the aunt laughed at Richard when he hurt himself on page 143. Richard let his aunt beat him the first time because he thought she misunderstood him. However she continued to beat Richard after he clarify the situation, and that was when he started to take defend. From that moment on she was not an aunt anymore but an enemy. Richard knew of only one way to defend himself from enemy, and that was to fight the enemy. Richard learnt of using violence as protection from other section, and he used it to defend himself in this section. There are other ways of protection, but he didn't learn them yet, and violence was only solution he can think of.
This scene described a similar situation that was present in the last scene, and a similar action taken by Richard.
Page 201 shows the cause to why Richard have choose to defend himself in front of his uncle:
“If it’s a little fast or slow, it’s not far wrong,” he said, imitating me in an angry, sarcastic voice. “I’ve taught school for thirty years, and by God I’ve never had a boy say anything like that to me.”
“But what’s wrong with what I said?’ I asked, amazed.
“shut up!’ he shouted” or I’ll take my fist and ram it down your sassy throat! One more word out of you, and I’ll get a limb and teach you a lesson.”
“What’s the matter with you Uncle Tom?’ I asked. “What’s wrong with what I said?”
“This day I’m going to give you the whipping some man ought to have given you long ago,” he vowed.
Richard came up with a clear reason why his uncle can't hit him on page 203:
“Now listen, Uncle Tom,” I said, “you’re not going to whip me. You’re a stranger to me. You don't’ support me. I don't live with you.””
The problem started out with Richard’s uncle asking Richard if he have the right time on his watch, and Richard simply replied with: “it’s right, if it's a little slow or faster, it’s not far wrong.” Richard’s reply cause the uncle to turn berserk and the uncle insist on teaching Richard a lesson without telling Richard what the mistake was. Richard objected to being beat by a person who has no right to beat him, nonetheless with an unclear reason. As a way to defend himself, Richard once again pick up a weapon and was ready to enter a fight. As it was mention in the last scene, Richard learn that through fighting, he can protect himself, and this time he used what he learn on his uncle. To Richard, fighting was the only way to solve problem, especially in a family that wouldn't listen to his explanation or question.
How does Richard learn from his experience and apply them in life?
Black Boy is a book about the life story of Richard Wright, story of how he as a boy has turn into a man he would have never expected. This book is particularly preoccupied with the relationship between experiencing and learning. It describes some very unforgettable yet troublesome issues that everyone experience or will experience in their lives. What we can see from all of this is that Richard Wright wants his reader to know about how the main character struggle in the horrifying environment he live under and survive. Not only did the main character survive but he also raised high in society. The main character prove to us that no matter how poorly a person live, if he set his goal to change his fate then he will succeed because life is full of opportunities.