Black Boy in Richard Wright's autobiography

Essay by Anonymous UserCollege, UndergraduateC+, January 1994

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The theme of Richard Wright's autobiography Black Boy is racism. Wright grew up in the deep South; the Jim Crow South of the early twentieth century. From an early age Richard Wright was aware of two races, the black and the white. Yet he never understood the relations between the two races. The fact that he didn't understand but was always trying to, got him into trouble many times. When in Memphis, Wright reluctantly assumed the role society dictated for him, the role of a black boy. He became a black boy for the sole purpose of survival, to make enough money to eventually move North where he could be himself.

As an innocent child Wright sees no difference between the blacks and the whites. Yet he is aware of the existence of a difference. "My grandmother who was as "white" as any "white" person, had never looked "white" to me."

(Wright pg. 31). This statement shows his confusion about blacks and whites. When, as a child Wright learned of a white man beating a black boy he believed that the white man was allowed to beat the black child. Wright did not think that whites had the right to beat blacks because of their race. Instead he assumed that the white man was the black boy's father. When Wright learned that this was not true, and that the boy was beaten because of his race, he was un able to rationalize it. Even as he got older he didn't see the color of people. In one instance Richard and a friend are standing outside a shop when some white people pass by, Richard doesn't move to accomodate the white people because he simple didn't notice that they were white.

As a child, Wright ultimately learned to fear white...