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Black Boy

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Introduction

In his fictional autobiography Black Boy, Richard Wright is growing up in the pre-Martin Luther King Jr., segregated and racially unjust south. Here he was unable to accept the racist southern society, and from its culture he sprang, and from its terror he fled. Throughout the novel, he feels that neither the blacks nor whites know how to understand him because he will not accept the idea that he is a lesser person based on his skin color. And as he regularly refuses to conform to either the whites or the blacks standards, Wright constantly explores and struggles with his feelings of aloneness and his aspiration to be himself and not become another "black boy" within southern society. ...read more.

Middle

After being moved in and out of orphanages and relatives houses, Richard settles down with his grandmother. But even here, Richard's family didn't share his devastating indignation towards segregation, and when they did, nobody wanted to fight against it, which made life for Richard more frustrating. For example, Uncle Tom, although not a real member of Richard's family, made Richard think about how his actions affect the outcome of his wellbeing in the Jim Crow South. Uncle Tom frequently calls Richard out on the things he believes will make Richard, "end on the gallows". But Richard is persistent about how he will survive independently; and he responds by saying, "If I do, you'll have nothing to do with it" (159). ...read more.

Conclusion

Family is supposed to provide a support system for teenagers, but for Richard it was exactly the opposite, which would instill a sense of seclusion in any teenager. At school Richard defies to conform to becoming another "black boy" yet again when he chooses to read his own speech and not graduate, although he was the valedictorian of his class. He continues to feel grapple with his refusal to be square with society at work, when he doesn't follow and attempts to stop Shorty, who was intelligent and prideful, but masochistically allowed whites to abuse him in exchange for money. When Richard pleads with Shorty, to not allow such abuse, Shorty responds with "my ass is tough and quarters is scarce." This frustrates Richard because although they share the same pride for being black and equally abhor the idea of racism, Shorty has accepted it and conformed to it. ...read more.

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