Black Boy Essay Themes

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Themes in the Novel "Black Boy" Essay

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Book review of Richard Wright's Black Boy, 1945


"I have never seen any part of the world where it seemed to me the masses of Negro People would be better off than right here in these Southern States"

- Booker T. Washington -

Published in 1945, Richard Wright's autobiographical novel Black Boy was to prove the contrary. It documented prejudice and oppression caused by the Jim Crow laws in the Deep South in the early twentieth century. It is an account of the difficult road of an African American, who was convinced to have greater destiny than that of a stereotypical black person, the white people tried to transform him into.

Wright tells the violent and disturbing story of his own life between the years 1908…show more content…

Richard receives intense and often seemingly unreasonable beatings from his mother and grandmother, moreover, the members of his family are extremely religious and base their life principally on the word of the bible.

Perhaps because of his natural distrust Richard remains unaffected by the religion, he simply does not feel anything and is hence considered dead by his grandmother and aunt.

As years pass by Richard's alienation increases in relation to the black community and the white world. Wright seems to criticize the subdued members of the black community who silently accept the white rule over them. The role model the southern whites have introduced for the blacks is so dominant that when Richard's first short story is published in a black newspaper, instead of receiving compliments he is regarded as weird and he becomes even more isolated from the community. His grandmother accuses him of lying and condemns his fiction as devil's work. It is this sense of isolation that drives Richard towards writing. Later in his life he grows to understand the true power of his words.

Perhaps the most difficult challenge for Richard during the years in the South is to learn to deal with white people. He cannot understand why he should adapt to white supremacy and content with his place as a second-class citizen. However, in order to make his way out of the South, he has no choice but to act

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Essay Topic 1

Examine Wright's writing style. How would you describe the prose style? What kind of vocabulary does he use? Does he use any specific writing techniques? What meaning does Wright's style give to his story?

Essay Topic 2

Discuss the connotations of the word "nigger."

1) What is its original meaning and what has it come to mean?

2) Why is it now considered so wrong to use?

3) Do you think the word has become too powerful?

Essay Topic 3

Examine the differences between how Wright represents white characters and how he represents black characters.

1) In what way are Wright's representations of white characters unsympathetic? Are his representations too unsympathetic?

2) In what way does Wright suggest that the way a white person treats a black person directly influences some of the black people's illegal behavior? Is this an accurate representation?

Essay Topic 4

Identify the main themes of the book. Why do...

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