Hunger in Richard Wright's Black Boy

969 Words4 Pages
Hunger in Black Boy

Have you ever experienced real hunger? The kinds of hungers that

Richard experiences in Black Boy are not evident in the society where you

and I reside. The present middle class citizens cannot really relate to

true physical hunger. Hunger for most of us is when there is nothing that

we desire to eat around the house and therefore skip one meal. This cannot

even compare to the days that Richard endures without food. Physical

hunger, however, is not the only hunger apparent in Richard's life.

Richard suffers from emotional and educational hungers as well. He yearns

for such things as mere association with others and simple books to read.

Both of which are things that most people take for granted. This

efficacious autobiography, Black Boy, by Richard Wright manifests what it

is like to desire such simple paraphernalia.

From a very early age and for much of his life thereafter, Richard

experiences chronic physical hunger. "Hunger stole upon me slowly that at

first I was not aware of what hunger really meant. Hunger had always been

more or less at my elbow when I played, but now I began to wake up at night

to find hunger standing at my bedside, staring at me gauntly" (16). Soon

after the disappearance of Richard's father, he begins to notice constant

starvation. This often reappears in his ensuing life. The type of hunger

that Richard describes is worse than one who has not experienced chronic

hunger can even imagine. "Once again I knew hunger, biting hunger, hunger

that made my body aimlessly restless, hunger that kept me on edge, that

made my temper flare, that made my temper flare, hunger that made hate

leap out of my heart like the dart of a serpent's tongue, hunger that

created in me odd cravings" (119). Because hunger has always been a part

of Richard's lifestyle, he cannot even imagine eating meat every day.

This simple privilege would be a miracle to him, yet to most it is nothing.

These weakening and piercing hungers are frequently evident where poverty

dwells in the Jim Crow South.

Furthermore, emotional hunger also represses much of Richard's life.

Richard desires attention from people. However, since he does not
Open Document