Heroic: Black Boy By Richard Wright

1827 words - 7 pages

In Richard Wright’s Black Boy, you see not only the transformation of a young boy going into adulthood, but a fascinating story of a hero on a journey to discover his true identity and his part in society. “Heroism is not about rising to the top, fighting for one's rightful place in society, but rather about making one's society and one's self whole. There is, however, also the notion that the right person can solve even global problems single-handedly. If the right person attempts such a feat, it will usually be successful” (Haberkorn). Wright goes from an ordinary world of struggles with hunger and poverty to a life of unfair treatment due to the color of his skin. This only leads Wright to take on the world with his head held high and ready to outstand anything that comes his way. His challenges makes him the activists he is meant to be and to defend his belief of how society should really be; equal and fair for everyone of any race. In his story Black Boy, Richard Wright goes through a series of obstacles on his hero journey to self-knowledge and ends up learning more about him self and society then he ever bargains for.
Wright grows up surrounded in extreme poverty and oppression where he sometimes has to go to bed without anything in his stomach. This childhood experience prepares him to face any struggle life could throw at him outside of his ordinary world of hunger and lack of life’s necessities. “My mother’s suffering grew into a symbol in my mind, gathering to itself all the poverty, the ignorance, the helplessness; the painful, baffling, hunger-ridden days and hours; the restless moving, the futile seeking, the uncertainty, the fear, the dread; the meaningless pain and the endless suffering. Her life set the emotional tone of my life, colored the men and women I was to meet in the future, conditioned my relation to events that had not yet happened, determined my attitude to situations and circumstances I had yet to face” (Wright 111). Wright explains to his readers that the suffering his family went through while he was a child set a mind state in which he continues to be in during his journey. From then on Richard faces his obstacles with his head up and realization that what is to come will not be easily overcame. “In heroic adventure myths, crossing the first threshold occurs when heroes step outside their normal world to enter the realm of the unknown” (Osland). Wright crosses his first threshold when he realizes it is time for him to go out and find work so he can help his family get on their feet even if it means facing discrimination.
After the ordinary world and the call to adventure comes the refusal of the call. Wright realizes that he soon will have to enter the unknown world of modern society, and he freaks out with all that he has been through and goes out to relinquish his fears with bottles of alcohol. “‘Those who refuse the call lose the perception that they can effect change in their own lives’ Campbell (1949)...

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