Richard Wright - A Hungry Black Boy

Essay by TheVirginValerieHigh School, 11th grade April 2004

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Prompt: What is the reason for Wright's use of hunger in the novel? How does hunger actually strengthem his character?

Hm...I think I might have kind of strayed a bit form the topic, but i think it's pretty good essay about hunger in the first part of black boy (we were only required to read part 1)

The word hunger is most often used to refer to as a lack of nourishment from food. Richard Wright is certainly no stranger to that form of hunger in his autobiographical novel Black Boy, but he uses this physical hunger as a symbol of the larger emptiness Richard's inhumane, brutal life has caused him to feel. Throughout the first half of the novel his emotional and mental malnutrition is especially evident as he hungers for literature, artistic expression, and engagement in social and political issues. As a result of his many hungers, he evolves into a strong minded aspiring writer.

Wright's experiences with hunger begin along with his first memories. In the first chapter, he writes of hunger along with many other short descriptions meant to create impressions seemingly of emptiness of what he felt and experienced as a child. "There were echoes of nostalgia I heard in the crying strings of wild geese winging south against a bleak, autumn sky. ... There was the yearning for identification loosed in my by the sight of a solitary ant carrying a burden upon a mysterious journey. ... There was the thirst I had when I watched clear, sweet juice trickle from sugar cane being crushed. ... There was the cloudy notion of hunger when I breathed the odor of new-cut, bleeding grass" (pg. 8). Everything about this passage paints a rather despairing picture of his childhood. The words he chose - echoes, nostalgia,