What Black Boy Teaches Us

Dec 14, 2010
by: tthomas

      Reading this book gives a clear perspective of a black boy’s life during post civil war. Since the book is written as a primary source it also gives a sense of imagery. The theme of this book is how minorities who struggle is affected by society and the setting in which they grow up in. This is interesting because the reader can learn more about the impacts of society towards a particular person during a crucial time.

           Reading Black Boy can make the reader realize a lot more about themselves and society. The media always teaches us where and how we should stand out in society, but reading this book can make the reader see if you don’t fit in you’re going to have to face difficult obstacles. The sad thing about it is the where and when it took place so it causes an instinctive sense of understanding. People who read this book could should be reminded  how gratefully they should be and that they should embrace what they have because people in the past have struggled  for what we have today, and even till this day, people struggle to realize this.

           Black Boy by Richard Wright is a story about a boy who struggles to settle down with his mother on the brink of death, while living in poverty moving from place to place. An example of what I mean is on page 113.  “When the neighbors offered me food, I refused, already ashamed that so often I had to be fed by strangers…I wrote letters to Granny dictated to her eight children..”to take Ella and her two little children to our home”…We rode to Jackson in silence and my mother was put abed upstairs. Aunt Maggie came from Detroit to help nurse and clean. ” What this part of the book of the book conveys is that even through the hardship and troubles Richard goes through he still had hope that things will get better. This is very important because some people from the same background remain hopeless and this shows despite the negative thoughts he may have towards society, he’s still very emotional durable. Within the story Richard undergoes even more hardship and still manages to remain strong at heart.

           The themes in Black Boy reminds of other works of literature. In the poem Crystal Stairs it reveals the same sense of hope within a struggling family. This poem reminds me of Black Boy because the mother is giving her son advice not to give up and to move forward. The crystal stairs represents the life the mother would wishes to pursuit, however, she describes her life as wooden and jagged in the poem which represents her life as being rough. In the book Black Boy Richard doesn’t give up, on the contrary people may think he chooses the wrong decisions but the choices he makes are the choices that impact his life greatly and makes him a stronger person.  

           This book is particularly preoccupied with the relationship between how the setting can affect a person. These are very important issues in our society right now because we are going through a crucial time and it has affected or will affect everyone directly. The economic crisis that we face now and the time in which Richard Wright grew up in affects the poor greatly because they never had anything to begin with instead of their pride and dignity. This is shown in Richard’s behavior thought out the book.
           To show that these issues are important in Black Boy let’s take a look closely first at a selection from the beginning of the book. What's this book trying to do? What kind of reader does it want? In chapter 3 it he explains how he used to hang around the other black boys and how they used to talk bad about white people all the time. Of course this shows ignorance, insecurity and lack of self-assurance. However, this shows that they built hate among these white people because they thought as if they brought the struggles upon them. Also in this book Richards and his friends perform extreme tactics to prove how serious they felt towards these people. On page 105  there is one of these passages where it gives examples of this. “My mama says that old white women where she works talked ‘bout slapping her and Ma said: Miz Green, if you slaps me, “I’ll kill you and go to hell and pay for it!” What Richard Wright gives us here is basically pride holding his mother back from potentially getting into a violent outbreak and he is influenced by this. So one thing this means to the reader is how and why people act the way they do based on where they come from.
           How does society play a role in one’s life within a crucial time period?
           For example in chapter 2 can get you more informed about the elements of the book. Reading chapter 1 doesn’t really inform you on what in going on in terms of where, who, and when.  Based on chapter 2, it was around the civil war. This can impact a black person’s life a lot. First off after the civil war reconstruction was taken place which effected the poor, the southerners and the former slaves in particularly, black people. Unfortunately, Richard fits in mos of these categories.
           Another element of the story that stands out is the characters. Richard’s father’s personality was more explained which can make it more clear why Richard acts the way he does. In this chapter it explains how his father couldn’t even lend him a few cents and Richards refused to take money from him after he mocked him and his mother. Richard may have felt embarrassed because he can’t even count on his father in times of need. It shows this on page 27 of “Black Boy”: “For some reason the entire thins struck me as being useless; i felt that if my father were going to feed me, then he would have done so regardless of what a judge said to him. And i did not want my father to feed me; I was hungry, but my thoughts of food did not now center about him.”
           However when he met him later on everything he did seemed to back fire. Richard saw his father working as a sharecropper, with raggedy clothing and in poor health conditions. Richard probably didn’t try to knock his father because he knew how it felt to be in a situation like that.

           Why is this scene important?  This scene describes a side of Richard that was not shown in the beginning of the book. Richard was sought out to be very stubborn, obnoxious, and as a delinquent. However in this scene it shows how mature Richard can be even when he re-unites with his father who has never been there for him in his times of need. Instead of being civil with his father, the reader might think, there might be controversy between the two. This shows that whatever Richard has learned from society that getting even all the time might not be the way to all his problems. In fact he might even learn the saying: What goes around comes around. Despite the fact his father has abandon him in the past he still doesn’t want to see his father in poor condition because he has been in the same position as well.



response to black boy

Submitted by spineda on Tue, 2014-09-16 14:19.

In the book “Black boy” by Richard wright is about a boy who experiences life back in the post civil war and slavery. Its mainly about what Richard wright went through as a child growing up with fear , poverty and hatred.
In the story , the author describes events which occurred in the young fellow’s life. Richard always went against the rules and always wanted to do what he wanted to do. One time in the story , Richard accidentally caught the house on fire by burning few straws from the broom. He began pulling more straws from the broom and throwing them into the fire. His brother told him not to do that but Richard continued anyway. Richard then wanted to watch the curtains burn so he ran to the window with the burning straws and watched the flames rise higher and higher and before you knew it , their home was covered in flames.
Richard was often bored and burning things were just one of the few things that kept him entertained. The details in this story would keep a reader wanting more information only because there’s so much that's happening already that a reader can only imagine what's next.
Something interesting about one of the characters (Richard’s brother) is that he’s always telling Richard what not to do. Whenever he knows that Richard is about to do something stupid he always stops him before he even attempts to try what he’s about to do. Maybe he’ll stop telling Richard right from wrong and Richard will start to listen?
After this part of the book readers will start to understand Richards and his families life. Events that happened and how they've dealt with tough situations day by day. Although some readers may not be looking forward to reading this story because its so long and full that it may be hard for some readers to understand the full concept of the whole story. What’s probably going to happen next is that Richard might lose his granny because she is sadly ill. hopefully not but that's what i predict.