Black Boy by Richard Wright


BlackBoy by Richard Wright

Blackboy is a book that is centered on the history and life of acelebrated American writer Richard Wright. This book provides asuccinct account of the cultural, social, and historical informationabout life of poor Americans in the 20thcentury (Andrews &amp Taylor, 2003). This work is an excellentmasterpiece that can spark extensive discussion, to fuel students toconduct special exploratory project, to coalesce cultural and artsknowledge into learning experience (Bloom&amp Wright, 2006).

BlackBoy is an account of fortitude and optimism. It catalogues RichardWright’s life growing up as an African-American in the South partof the country, portraying social and economic troubles that wereformulaic for Americans of African origin at that point in history(Andrews &amp Taylor, 2003). This is an epic about a boy growing upin a poverty stricken family and his zeal and determination toovercome challenges and hardships created by prevailingcircumstances. It is also an account about a life full of hunger(Bloom&amp Wright, 2006).Richard suffers from hunger all his life, hunger for food and love,recognition and understanding of the environment around him. Perhapsthe most important desire that Richard possesses is an unappeasablehunger for knowledge (Andrews &amp Taylor, 2003).

BlackBoy is an archetypal American memoir, an ingeniously crafted accountof Richard’s expedition from ingenuousness to understanding in theJim Crow South (Andrews &amp Taylor, 2003). It is a book thatremains a seminal text in the American history relating to what itentails to be a man, what it means to be black in a predominantlywhite society and what life meant to live in the Southern part ofAmerica (Bloom&amp Wright, 2006).The main rationale for choosing this book is the way in which itdepicts how prejudice, racial discrimination and poverty influencedthe personality but also how it fueled creativity, empoweringindividuals such as Richard Wright to perceive their pain as aquintessence of the existential human stipulation.


Asa record of family life, Richard presents a bleak visual rendering ofdegeneration, violence and misery that engulfed black people inAmerica when slave racial discrimination was an acceptable feature(Andrews &amp Taylor, 2003). While the genuineness of every incidentassociated with the text is open to discussion, one cannot refute theauthenticity with which Richard has documented the psychological andemotional realities of his childhood and their overwhelmingpsychological effects. The central theme of the book is the nibblinghunger that defines almost every aspect of Wright’s life emotionalhunger caused by the abandonment, and aggravated by the debilitatingmalady that afflicts his mother, and the isolation of theAfrican-American, physical hunger that is rooted in the fact that hewas born in a poverty stricken family, a situation that is compoundedby the death of his father and intellectual hunger aggravated by thescarcity in the number of learning institutions and the suppressivereligious fundamentalism of his maternal family (Andrews &ampTaylor, 2003).


Themenacing Results of Racism

Racismas a social conundrum has been a popular subjects in many literalworks but Richard Wright’s book, the Black Boy walks around thetopic not only as an abhorrent belief that is upheld by horribleindividuals but also as an evil problem interlaced into the very coreof the society (Hinds,2010).Richard depicts characters such as Pease and Olin as wickedindividuals, but also and more frighteningly as key participants in acosmic theater of fear, hatred and oppression (Andrews &amp Taylor,2003). For Wright, the main issue at hand is not that racism existsas a social problem, but that it is so deeply embedded in Americanculture, to the extent that it is not clear whether it can be wipedout without destroying the fabric of the American society (Hinds,2010).

BlackBoy surpasses the boundary of an autobiography, and depicts in abroader sense Richard’s ardent zeal to detect, examine and reflectupon the racist environment around him. All through the book, we seeWright monitor and take note of the venomous impacts of racism notonly as it influences the relationship betweenblacks and whites,but also as it impinges on the relations among black Americans(Andrews &amp Taylor, 2003). The title of the book sends massivesignal on the gist of his work one can detect the weight accorded tothe word “black” (Bloom&amp Wright, 2006).This is an account of childhood, but in every page and in everyscenario the reader is acutely conscious of the color of Richard’sskin. In the U.S.A Richard is not simply growing up but is alsogrowing up in a predominantly white community. Without a doubt, it ispractically impossible for Wright to grow up devoid of the label“black boy’ relentlessly being leveled on him (Hinds,2010).

WhiteAmerican in the book generally maltreats Wright because he is black.Most notably, racism is so entrenched in the society at that time tothe extent that it hampers Wright from interacting normally withWhite American such as Hoffmans and Mr.Cane who accord him respectand treat him properly (Andrews &amp Taylor, 2003). The situation isdo dire that it even compound relations among black people aswitnessed in the case of Wright and Harrison. The most painful aspectin this entire circus is the fact that Wright grows up among blackAmericans who are not willing and able to accept his talents andpersonality (Hinds,2010). In this work, Wright’s condemnation of racism encompasses acritique of the black Americans who have not taken any effort toeducate him and help him recognize his talent early in life.

Individualversus Society

Itis apparent from the book that Wright is ferociously eccentric andfrequently utters a desire to join society based on his own termsrather than allowing the society coerce him into one of itscategories (Bloom&amp Wright, 2006).

Inthis vein, Wright struggle against a culture that is dominated by thewhite American in all facets of life and that is against the blackculture. Neither the white community nor the black has succinctknowledge on how to handle a bright, self-respecting and resoluteblack man (Bloom&amp Wright, 2006).Wright is all too aware that he has two options, either to conform tothe society dictates or to wilt. Unsurprisingly, none of thealternative is good enough for him, and as such he creates his ownmiddle path. Richards defies unsatisfactory choices in the diverseways in the book. First, he flouts them in Granny home where heresides at one time and where he refuses to conform to the mandatoryspirituality. Then he at school when the principal demand that hereads the official speech or he fails to graduate. Even though hefaces immense strife when he rejects calls to conform, he does notcomplain since he opts to remain an individual who is spirituallyconnected to the rest of the community.

Redemptionability of Art

Theremany instances in the book where art spark Wrights emotional reactionthat serves as an eye-opener to the meaning of life. When theschoolteacher slyly asks Wright the plot of Bluebeards and His wives,Wright is mesmerized and states that the epic sparks his first totalexpressive reaction (Bloom&amp Wright, 2006).Such an experience plus the reading of novels, magazines, and hiswriting of the horror stories engage his mental faculties andbolsters his belief that life can have a meaning. His endeavor toderive meaning from creative work that accords him an opportunity tofeel that his life has a purpose, texture and meaning (Bloom&amp Wright, 2006).

UsingBlack Boy in Secondary Schools

Thisis an excellent book to use in secondary schools in America today forthe new generation to know that the current ideology among youngpeople, that our society has always been a free and a country whereall ethnic groups have equal rights is far from the truth. Thereality is that United States of America has been entangled in theheinous crime of racial discrimination and slave trade where,innocent people were shipped from foreign countries to America towork in plantations. By showing the evils of racial discriminationand the struggles of determined mind to overcome tremendouschallenges, Richard Wright’s book is an excellent exemplar that ourmind is the only thing that can limit our ability (Bloom&amp Wright, 2006)..

Evenwith little access to formal education and in a society that isagainst the black community Richard provides encouragement tostudents who are facing different challenges fronted by moderncivilization. Most importantly this book is a succinct masterpiece toportray to young minds the importance of equality and the setbacksthat racial discrimination erects to the unprivileged ethnic groupsin our society.

Inthe face of racially driven murders and police brutality againstminority groups in the United States in the recent past, Black Boyserves as a literal works that depicts what such vices can deny acountry and how it smoother talent. Racism and any form of oppressionis both morally and socially wrong, and can hamper the growth anddevelopment of a civilization. Black Boy is an exceptional book thatcan teach young readers in secondary school a lesson that no memberof our society should ever forget. Wright has succinctly showed thatracism and all forms of discrimination can never be justified,regardless of the situation or environment

Themain problems of using this book in secondary schools is that it mayspark hatred from black Americans whose grandparents were victims ofracial discrimination and oppression, and who may feel that theiropportunities have been curtailed by the lack of education and accessto education of their forefathers. Young adults may also feelestranged and lack connection to event that happened decades ago.Even though America has not successfully eliminated racialdiscrimination, modern learners are facing different problems fromthose that existed at the beginning of the 20thcentury. They may connect more with aspects relating to social media,terrorism, global warming, unemployment, and other issues connectedto digital platforms.


Literaturecircle is a design for getting students to discuss various aspects ofa book with their peers as they read it together. In this structure,the students are in charge of their conversation. It is a groupcomposed of 4-6 students (Katherine,2004). The students share the following job but on a rotatory basis:discussion director, questioner, word watcher, illuminator,summarizer, connector and illustrator (Katherine,2004). The Black Boy can be good for literature circle since eachcircle can pick a specific contentious quotation from book and thenrespond to the issues by either disagreeing or agreeing with it. Thestudents can also hold discussions about the themes and characters inthe book, participate in critical thinking, and reflect on variousimportant aspects in the book.

Themain strength of using literature circles would be add onto thestudent understanding as the craft and construct meaning with otherstudents. They can also be pivotal tools that can help and guidestudents in secondary schools to understand what they have readthough artistic and written responses and structured discussion(Katherine,2004). The fact that each member in the circle picks the roles thatthey interest them enables everyone student to understand the bookusing the method they excel in. This significantly deepen the thoughprocess surrounding the novel. For example a visual representation ofsome aspects of the book enabled each member to look at the story ina way that they never would have imagined (Katherine,2004).Finally due to the fact that literature circles are fun and accordeach student an opportunity to participate in some activities, andbecause they are cooperative learning structures, they are veryeffective learning techniques for struggling readers. Giving studentsa choice for various roles, accords them with tools to discover aninterest in reading (Katherine,2004).

Themain wekaness of using literature circles in secondary schools is thefact that there will be a gap in the overall efficacy of the groupwhen some members are not actively angaged in their roles (Katherine,2004). In addition some young adults may prefer to work on a novelindividually instead of discussing it during literature circles.


BlackBoy provides a concise account of the cultural, social, andhistorical information about life of poor Americans in the 20thcentury. This work is an outstanding masterpiece that can igniteextensive discussion, and encourage students to conduct specialexploratory project, to coalesce cultural and arts knowledge intolearning experience. As a record of family life, Richard presents ableak visual rendering of degeneration, violence and misery thatengulfed black people in America when slave racial discrimination wasan acceptable feature. Three themes have been discussed in this work,theme of racial discrimination, individual versus society and theredemption ability of art.

BlackBoy has been identified as an excellent book for secondary schoolbecause it explores themes that can help young readers change theirenvironment by promoting values that impact our society positively.It can serves as a mirrors that reflect the injustices that blackpeople have faced in America. Wright zeal, persistence, courage anddexterity enable him to overcome insurmountable setbacks and exploithis potential. This fits perfectly with secondary school students whoderive immense encouragement from Richard’s biography. LiteratureCircle has been identified as succinct tool to help learners connectand understand the various aspects of the book.


Andrews,W. L., &amp Taylor, D. (2003). RichardWright`s Black boy (American hunger):A casebook. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

KatherineL. (2004). Overviewof Literature Circle.Literature Circles Resource Center. Available at:

Bloom,H., &amp Wright, R. (2006). RichardWrightś Black Boy.New York, NY: Chelsea House Publishers.

Hinds,M. J. (2010). Areader`s guide to Richard Wright`s Black boy.Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers.