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Black Boy

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In the novel titled Black Boy written by Richard Wright, Wright goes into detail about the treatment of African Americans in the South from the Caucasians. In the novel he brings about an important factor, as the reader you are given the insights of Richard Wright's childhood. Although this book is taken as an autobiography, Wright just briefly summarizes the majority of his experiences as a child.

The novel starts out with Richard at the age of four, burning down his family's house, as he wants to see what the curtains look like when they burn. His father, Nathan, finds him and beats him until he is unconscious. By age six, Richard's father leaves his mother ,Ella, to be with another woman. This leaves Richard and the rest of his family in financial straits. To make money, Richard wanders into a local saloon where white folks teach him how to drink and swear. Although Richard has an abundance of intellectual skills, he still does not understand the differences between blacks and whites in the South, but he is soon to find out.

Through the next several years of Richard's life, he is bounced around from house to house. When living with his Granny, he is severely beaten because of his profound use of obscenities. Eventually, Richard and his family move back to West Helena where he enrolls in a local school. Afraid that he will be beaten, Richard does not participate often in class. After attending the local school for less than a year, Richard moves into his Aunt Addie's house, and enrolls in a religious school where his aunt taught. Instead of this being an opportunity for Richard to succeed, Addie wants to make a bad example out of Richard, and would often punish him for things he did not do. In school Richard is a loner, having no friends, because of the lack of money his family has, so he decides to try and find a job. After bouncing around from one white family to another, cleaning homes and mopping floors, he starts to realize the treatment that whites give to blacks.

When Richard graduates from school as the class Valedictorian, he is asked to give a speech. But the principal demands that Richard give the speech the principal has written, or he will be banned from graduating. Richard disobeys these orders and reads his own speech, and then promptly flees the auditorium. After graduating from school, Richard goes back to finding a job. He works as a porter, where he often witnesses whites beating blacks for apparently no reason. He then scams a local movie theater to obtain enough money to move north. After doing so, he moves to Memphis, Tennessee with a nice lady named Mrs. Moss. While reading an editorial in a Memphis paper, he notices some work done by H.L. Mencken and wants to read more about him. He then asks a white woman to borrow her library card so he can check out books and she agrees. The books bring a sort of excitement to his life, and he dreams of becoming a writer. That next winter Richard and his family move to Chicago, where Richard tries to obtain his dream of becoming a writer.

This novel really shows the day to day harsh treatment, blacks received from whites. In the beginning of the book, Wright really gives you a sense of how he felt abandoned from his family. This feeling of being abandoned is a theme throughout the rest of the book. Wright routinely states how he was beaten by



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