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Violence and Oppression in Wright's Black Boy
"You are dead to me dead to christ!" In the following paragraphs,
violence and oppression in Ch. 5 will discussed and analyzed through examination
of Richard Wright's --author of Black Boy(1945)--use of diction, tone, and
metaphors. Were people of his time to read this book it's probable that they would understand, wheather they agree with the author's point of view or not, the
amount of violence and oppression witnessed by a boy his age. Richard Wright,
through the the use of the words his senses produced, brought his past into
light for the children of the future. He allows his readers to feel as he did
under the light of strong persecution with the use of an intimidating, heartfelt
"The cosmic images of dread were gone and the external world became a
reality, quivering daily before me. Instead of brooding and trying
foolishly to pray, I could run and toam, mingle with the boys and
girls, feel at home with people, share a little of life in common
with others, satisfy my hunger to be and live."
Wright fills the chapter with a calm and mesmorizing tone; like that of
a preecher drawing his audience into a hymm. Omisdt violence, under anger and
fear, Wright converses with the reader as though he were a youth leader telling
a story to a group of boyscouts outside by a campfire. His spellbounding words
chant the reader into his world and produce a map through which the reader
follows his life in the shadows of others. " I mingled with the boys, hoping to
pass unnoticed , but knowing that sooner or later I would be spotted for a
newcomer. And trouble came quickly- a bloabk boy came bounding past me, thumping
my hat to the ground and yelling." To keep his audience from dazily drifting
into a state of semi-consiousness, Wright interjects into his prayer with action
in an excited and staggering tone.
"A blow landed on the back of my head. I turned and saw a brick
rolling away and I felt blood oozing down my back. I looked around
and saw several brickbats scattered about.
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The two boys backed away. I took aim as they circled me ; I made a
motion as if to throw and one of the boys turned and ran. I let go
with the brick and caught him in the middle of his back. He screamed."
By randomly shifting tone and using a variety of diction, Wright keeps his
readers on edge. In Ch. 5 Writght fluctuates word choice with action; when there
is none his words express a valuable peace in hysteris. When action is not
present Wright seems to speak in a peaceful voice that softens the reader to his
pains. "... I was reserved with the boys and girls at school, seeking their
company but never letting them guess how much I was being kept out of the world
in which they lived, valuing their casual feiendships but hiding it, acutely
self consious but covering it with a quick smile and a readt phrase." When there
was action; however, Wright made sure the reader knew;
"I hesitated for a moment, then acted; I brushed the rock from my
shoulder and ducked and grabbed him about the legs and dumped him to
the ground. A volcano of screams erupted from the crowd. I jumped
upon the fallen boy and started pounding him. Then I was jerked up.
Another boy had begun to fight me . My straw hat had been crushed
Without his use of diction, Wright's metaphorical rhetoric would not stir the
readers emotions as it does.
In a combination with paralellism Wright uses metaphors against his
audience to sway the intensity of their emotions in his direction.
"There were hours when hunger would make me weak, would make me
sway while walking, would make my heart give a sudden wild spurt of
beating that would shake my body and make me breathless; but the
happiness of being free would lift me beyond hunger, would enable
me to discipline the sensations of my body to the extent that I
could temporarily forget."
To follow, Wright used metaphors in the dialogue of othercharacters, such as the
grandmother when she said, "You left the church and you are on your own. You are
with the world. You're dead to me dead to christ."
With all of the language devices Wright used to express violence and
oppression, many of them did not appear in dialogue. It, however, still
possessed a strong force. "If you touch me, I'll cut you, so help me. I am going
to leave as soon as I can work and make a living. But as long as I'm here, you
better not touch me...If you touch me when I'm sleeping, I'll kill you."
Richard Wright was witness of as much violence and oppression in his
early years as was there for any man of the time. His expierences as a young boy
shaped him into the man and author he bacame. And through his writing, he shapes
his readers with his words. "Suddenly the future loomed tangibly for me, as
tangible as the future can loom for a black boy in Mississippi."