Themes in the Novel "Black Boy"

1200 Words3 Pages

Book review of Richard Wright's Black Boy, 1945 Introduction: "I have never seen any part of the world where it seemed to me the masses of Negro People would be better off than right here in these Southern States" - Booker T. Washington - Published in 1945, Richard Wright's autobiographical novel Black Boy was to prove the contrary. It documented prejudice and oppression caused by the Jim Crow laws in the Deep South in the early twentieth century. It is an account of the difficult road of an African American, who was convinced to have greater destiny than that of a stereotypical black person, the white people tried to transform him into. Wright tells the violent and disturbing story of his own life between the years 1908 and 1934 when he lived in the southern states of Mississippi and Tennessee. One is struck by the extreme cruelty and hardship he faced while only an emotionally vulnerable child and adolescent. As Wright generalizes his own experiences to show how the society functioned at the time, one may wonder how many individuals were crushed by similar circumstances. In this book review I represent and analyze the three themes I found the most significant in the novel. Alienation The theme of alienation is developed throughout the novel. From the early days of his life, Richard feels isolated from his family and mistrust characterizes his childhood. As his relatives refuse to understand his different visions of life and are annoyed by his thirst for knowledge, they paradoxically become young Richard's first suppressors. Richard's feeling of alienation comes out in rebellion. Only at the age of four Richard sets his own house in fire and little later kills an innocent kitten to protest against h... ... middle of paper ... also worth noticing that Black Boy is written in retrospective and thus offers the point of view of grown-up Richard Wright and reflects his thoughts on the events of his life twenty years after they actually took place. I would highly recommend this book to anyone. It is beautifully written with great mastery of language and it really opened my eyes on race relations in the Deep South in the beginning of the twentieth century. Using the power of his words Wright contributed greatly to African American crusade for equal Civil Rights and made his audience, both black and white in the Northern states of the United States and in Europe to increasingly despise the white supremacy of the Southern states. Perhaps Wright did not mean Black Boy to be a social commentary, but at least it is an important piece of African American heritage from the era of Jim Crow laws.

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