The Conformity In A White Society: Understanding Richard Wright's Black Boy

1238 words - 5 pages

“I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of the hunger for life that gnaws in us all, to keep alive in our hearts a sense of the inexpressibly human.” (Richard Wright) In 1945 an intelligent black boy named Richard Wright made the brave decision to write and publish an autobiography illustrating the struggles, trials, and tribulations of being a Negro in the Jim Crow South. Ever since Wright wrote about his life in Black Boy many African American writers have been influenced by Wright to do the same. Wright found the motivation and inspiration to write Black Boy through the relationships he had with his family and friends, the influence of folk art and famous authors of the early 1900s, and mistreatment of blacks in the South and uncomfortable racial barriers.
Wright had a large family that all lived close to one another in Jackson, Mississippi, but Wright felt isolated from them because he didn’t have complete faith in the beliefs and values his relatives had. At a young age, Wright’s father left his family, leaving his own family to support themselves with little money. Wright constantly blamed his father for his constant hunger, and “whenever I felt hunger I thought of him with a deep biological bitterness.” (Wright 16). Living on practically nothing, Wright’s mom, Ella began to push her son into becoming the man of the household. Despite Wright’s constant fear of getting hurt, he slowly started to develop bravery. Without being brave, Wright would have never found the courage to write about his own life. The only source of support his family received was from his maternal grandmother, who had a large focus on religion. Despite the push of Wright’s family about his religion, he “wrestled unceasingly with his faith” (Whitted 14), because no matter how hard he tried, he “‘simply [couldn’t] feel religion’” (Wright 114). Even after going to church school, praying every day, and given a bible, Wright claimed that he would “‘never feel God’” (Wright 114) because “‘it’s no use’” (Wright 114). The amount of time his family believed he was focusing on religion, Wright found acceptance of himself by reading and writing. The interpretation of Wright’s disbelief of God was a result of the dread, fear, hunger, terror, and loneliness that went on in his life. Wright could not thrive because of these reasons, therefore why “His [God’s] existence or nonexistence never worried me” (Wright 115). Wright could not believe in his faith because he could not believe in himself. He and his family’ opposing mindsets eventually led him to solitude, in which he resorts to reading and writing to avoid judgment.
The respectable and immoral relationships Wright had white Northerners and Southerners during the Jim Crow era gradually made Wright understand his place as a Negro in American. During the Jim Crow era, blacks were opposed...

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