Defining Roles through the Use of Language in Richard Wright’s Autobiography, Black Boy

Defining Roles through the Use of Language in Richard Wright’s Autobiography, Black Boy

Length: 442 words (1.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Defining Roles through the Use of Language in Richard Wright’s Autobiography, Black Boy

In his autobiography, Black Boy, Richard Wright is constantly feeling alone and cast from society. He always knew he was different from his friends and the other kids; he knew that there was something separating himself from his peers- language. Throughout the novel Wright uses language to define roles, to define himself, and to define society.

Wright’s use of language and rhetorical techniques allows his readers to know exactly which characters are filling which roles in the novel. For example, when Richard walks into his boss's office to explain that had been bitten by the man's dog, his boss's secretary uses short concise sentences. '"He isn't here now,' she said, and went back to her typing," explains the exact manner in which Richard was treated. the syntax exhibited here demonstrates that the secretary does not have -- nor does she want to have -- the time to listen to a black boy in pain. This clearly shows that this secretary is above Richard and has no desire to slip down to his level. Furthermore, Richard uses a different syntax when speaking back to the secretary. His sentences are longer while remaining simplistic. "His dog bit me, ma'am, and I'm afraid I might get an infection" demonstrates how the diction in Richard's sentences is much less offensive and accompanied by a certain sense of inferiority, showing his fear of this white secretary without actually saying it. Just from Wright's choice of wording (diction and syntax), the roles in this passage are clearly drawn and defined.

Wright not only defines the roles of others in this passage but, with language, he defines himself. For example, when Richard says things like; "Can't I see the Boss?" "It's swelling, " and "sonofabitch"; they are not taken with a playful connotation. His frequent use of contractions and poorly structured sentences bring to the forefront, basically, exactly how uneducated he truly is. This use of diction in his dialogue easily shows his character and exactly who he is.

Lastly, Wright's use of language defines society as a whole.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Defining Roles through the Use of Language in Richard Wright’s Autobiography, Black Boy." 16 Aug 2018

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Deception of Appearances in Richard Cory by Edwin Arlington Robinson Essay

- In "Richard Cory", Edwin Arlington Robinson explores the deception of appearances. Richard Cory was a wealthy man, admired and envied by those who consider themselves less fortunate than he. Seemingly, Richard Cory was the model of success, dignity, and wealth. A standard to which every man was measured. However, Richard Cory didn't have everything; the desire to live. Through Richard Cory, Robinson illustrates how appearances can be deceiving and how depression and despair is not confined to the "people on the pavement" (line 2)....   [tags: Richard Cory Analysis]

Research Papers
502 words (1.4 pages)

The Role of Women in Richard II Essay

- The Role of Women in Richard II Throughout the historical literary periods, many writers underrepresented and undervalued the role of women in society, even more, they did not choose to yield the benefits of the numerous uses of the female character concerning the roles which women could accomplish as plot devices and literary tools. William Shakespeare was one playwright who found several uses for female characters in his works. Despite the fact that in Shakespeare's history play, Richard II, he did not use women in order to implement the facts regarding the historical events....   [tags: widow, mother, wife, queen, domestic, emotion]

Research Papers
2164 words (6.2 pages)

Glorifying the Tudor Dynasty: Shakespeare's Richard III and the Perfect Villain

- ... This results in Richard’s actions that lead him to kill his brother and manipulate his family into getting the throne. Additionally, the plot of the play portrays a turning point for English history, the rise of the Tudor dynasty. In combination with Machiavelli’s tenants, the fact that Elizabeth was the patron of the arts also influenced Shakespeare’s piece. Shakespeare evidently courts the Queen with the twisted characterization of Richard that leads to her current role as Queen of England....   [tags: Elizabethan plays, Golden age]

Research Papers
1005 words (2.9 pages)

Student Placement in The Loss of the Creature and The Achievment of Desire

- Students are to sit passively, and take in information that is presented by the experts who are teachers. Students are novices and apprentices who are inferior to teacher. This placement in the classroom says a lot of how students are placed in the world. Teachers have the power to instill their views unto students. This causes students to adapt to the teachers’ views and see the world the way the teachers are presenting to them. With this way of education, it implies the relation to the world, students are not expected to explore and are robbed to have their own experiences or interpretations....   [tags: education, Walker Percy, Richard Rodriguez]

Research Papers
1283 words (3.7 pages)

Revolutionary Road Analysis Essay

- Suburban life in the 1950s was ideal, but not ideal for the women. Women were continuously looked at as the typical suburban housewife. In Richard Yates’ novel, Revolutionary Road, we are given the chance to see the dynamics of the Wheeler family and of those around them. Through the use of theme, tone and major symbolism in the novel, we are shown the perspective of gender roles in the 1950s. The author shows the reader the struggles of strict gender roles and how the protagonist of the story will do just about anything to escape from it....   [tags: Richard Yates, gender role, suburban life]

Research Papers
1403 words (4 pages)

Watership Down by Richard Adams Essay

- In light of the description of anthropomorphism, I think it is only fitting to use the novels Charlotte’s Web and Watership Down to demonstrate them. While both of these novels show animals behaving in different manners, they are both uncharacteristic of normal animal behaviour. Charlotte’s Web shows animals behaviour as primarily human while Watership Down demonstrates animals behaving mostly as animals. This said, we see that both these novels show their characters with human traits, however they are all confined to their physical limitations as animals....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
773 words (2.2 pages)

The Impact Of Public Opinion On U.S. Foreign Policy Since Vietnam Essay

- Since the Vietnam War, the public's opinion has played major roles in how policymakers operate. Their opinions may not always support to choices which are best for the country, however they are still factored into the decision making. Richard Sobel discusses several cases on how the public's attitudes have affected policymaker's decisions in his book, "The Impact of Public Opinion on U.S. Foreign Policy Since Vietnam." During the Persian Gulf War, public opinion ultimately shaped policy. How the policy was attained, not the goals of the policy were shaped by the public opinion....   [tags: Richard Sobel Book Analysis Vietnam War]

Research Papers
1702 words (4.9 pages)

Gender Roles and Steretypes Analysed Through Film 'Think Like a Man' Essay examples

- The film “Think like a Man” directed by Tim Story, centres around four best friends whose lives are shaken up when the women they are pursuing buy the book “Act like a Lady, Think like a Man”, written by Steve Harvey, and start taking his advice to heart. When the men find out about the book, they conspire to use its information in order to turn the tables against the women (Rotten Tomatoes , 2012). While watching this film, I noticed that it continuously emphasised gender inequality, in relationships and in an economic sense, as a discourse of human nature....   [tags: Movie Analysis, Gender Roles]

Research Papers
1768 words (5.1 pages)

Use of Myth in Watership Down by Richard Adams Essay

- As you grow up, you have always been told stories to either scare you into not doing something, like if you don’t go to bed, the boogeyman will come and get you; or stories that give you hope, inspire you, make you dream, or help you to the next step in your life. You’ve heard these stories from your parents, your grandparents, your aunts and uncles; you’ve practically heard a story from everybody in your family down to the old lady who lives down the street. People just want you to learn from their mistakes or to let you know that things will always work out....   [tags: Richard Adams]

Free Essays
1613 words (4.6 pages)

Use of Diction and Imagery in Richard Wright’s Black Boy Essay

- Use of Diction and Imagery in Richard Wright’s Black Boy Black Boy, which was written by Richard Wright, is an autobiography of his upbringing and of all of the trouble he encountered while growing up. Black Boy is full of drama that will sometimes make the reader laugh and other times make the reader cry. Black Boy is most known for its appeals to emotions, which will keep the reader on the edge of his/her seat. In Black Boy Richard talks about his social acceptance and identity and how it affected him....   [tags: Richard Wright’s Black Boy]

Research Papers
786 words (2.2 pages)

Related Searches

For example, the change in speech from the secretary, to the boss, to the black boys, outlines the society food chain for Wright's readers and requires no explanation. The roles are defined not only for the individual characters but for an entire section of society. In just one passage, Wright demonstrated how society works and how its people function within in.

Through syntax and diction, Wright defines an entire society. He explains how the society works, and how he fits into it, all without writing a single word about it.
Return to