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Richard Wright grew up in the woods of Mississippi, with poverty, hunger, fear, and hatred. He lied, stole, and raged at those around him; at six he was a "drunkard," hanging about taverns. Surly, brutal, cold, suspicious, and self-pitying, he was surrounded on one side by whites who were either indifferent to him, pitying, or cruel, and on the other by blacks who resented anyone trying to rise above the common lot.

Black Boy is Richard Wright's powerful account of his journey from innocence to experience in the Jim Crow South. It is at once an unashamed confession and a profound indictment—a poignant and disturbing record of social injustice and human suffering.

Topics: Mississippi, United States of America, Chicago, American South, 1920s, Bildungsroman, Creative Nonfiction, Inspirational, Contemplative, Poignant, Race Relations, Coming of Age, Childhood, Poverty, Communism, American History, Civil and Political Rights, Segregation, Politics, Working Class, Social Change, Art & Artists, Discrimination, African American Culture & Characters, Harlem Renaissance, Existentialism, 20th Century, American Author, and Philosophical

Published: HarperCollins on Jun 16, 2009
ISBN: 9780061935480
List price: $10.99
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Title: An Eye Opener.This book was captivating compared to other books I have had to read in high school. Wright does not “sugar coat” anything in this book, he tells it how it is. He writes about his journey as an African American boy and his hardships. It is defiantly different from other racial-based books.Recommended to read if you want a different perspective on racial issues. Overall, a interesting book to read.read more
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I thought this book was awful. I commend Wright for this detailed memoir of his life, and perhaps it was because I was forced to read this, but I just could not stay interested through the book. It took several attempts to read each chapter and fully appreciate the words. I still intend to read Native Son, though I worry I may have the same problem.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Stale Bread and Black MolassesIn the novel, Black Boy, Richard Wright begins with a shocking scene sure to grab the attention of many readers: he burns down his own home by throwing curtains into a fireplace. He is very concise with his writing and keeps the topic simple. In the beginning, he describes vividly his boyhood and his youth in Mississippi. He showed his interest in knowledge and reading ever since he was four years old. As time progressed, I noticed that Richard began to challenge authority more and more. He was becoming more sneaky and dangerous around whites, especially when he tricked his boss at the theater and took the money. It felt like the entire plot of the book was to move up north through a series of jobs. Although I have only read Part I of the novel, it is safe to say that these jobs drastically effected his decision to move.One theme mentioned frequently in the novel is that of hunger. We’ve all been hungry before, but Wright describes it as terrible as it can get, up to the point where he is forced to commit a crime to get money. He lives off of a can of beans for dinner each night and the food as his jobs weren’t so great either. After a hard day’s work, Richard is given some stale bread and black molasses by his boss on the farm. Richard kindly and respectfully declines the offer and moves on to the next job. Hunger is a main theme in the novel and one that has played a permanent effect on Richard’s mind and behavior. This book is a very enjoyable read and I recommend it to teenagers as well as adults because of the insight and knowledge it provides once finished with the novel.read more
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Title: An Eye Opener.This book was captivating compared to other books I have had to read in high school. Wright does not “sugar coat” anything in this book, he tells it how it is. He writes about his journey as an African American boy and his hardships. It is defiantly different from other racial-based books.Recommended to read if you want a different perspective on racial issues. Overall, a interesting book to read.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I thought this book was awful. I commend Wright for this detailed memoir of his life, and perhaps it was because I was forced to read this, but I just could not stay interested through the book. It took several attempts to read each chapter and fully appreciate the words. I still intend to read Native Son, though I worry I may have the same problem.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Stale Bread and Black MolassesIn the novel, Black Boy, Richard Wright begins with a shocking scene sure to grab the attention of many readers: he burns down his own home by throwing curtains into a fireplace. He is very concise with his writing and keeps the topic simple. In the beginning, he describes vividly his boyhood and his youth in Mississippi. He showed his interest in knowledge and reading ever since he was four years old. As time progressed, I noticed that Richard began to challenge authority more and more. He was becoming more sneaky and dangerous around whites, especially when he tricked his boss at the theater and took the money. It felt like the entire plot of the book was to move up north through a series of jobs. Although I have only read Part I of the novel, it is safe to say that these jobs drastically effected his decision to move.One theme mentioned frequently in the novel is that of hunger. We’ve all been hungry before, but Wright describes it as terrible as it can get, up to the point where he is forced to commit a crime to get money. He lives off of a can of beans for dinner each night and the food as his jobs weren’t so great either. After a hard day’s work, Richard is given some stale bread and black molasses by his boss on the farm. Richard kindly and respectfully declines the offer and moves on to the next job. Hunger is a main theme in the novel and one that has played a permanent effect on Richard’s mind and behavior. This book is a very enjoyable read and I recommend it to teenagers as well as adults because of the insight and knowledge it provides once finished with the novel.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I would recommend this. The novel talks specifically about Mr. Wright's life, and much of it was very interesting. It was unlike any autobiography I've read in the past, although I was not fond of the ending.4Q, 3P; Cover Art: Awesome!This book is best suited for highschoolers and adults.It was selected due to reading another book by the author, Native Son, and enjoying it.Grade (of reviewer): 11th(KR-AHS-NC)
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Black Boy is one that I read in high school without ever truly appreciating it. This re-read definitely corrected my ignorance and failure at respect, for Mr. Wright is more than worthy of a reader's respect. Surrounded by ignorance, abject poverty, and an entire society that considered him less than human, Mr. Wright was able to overcome all odds and escaped to the North without ever allowing the Jim Crow South to beat him. Even more worthy of accolades is the fact that Black Boy was first published in 1945, a time when racial relations were still not discussed and were not going to improve for another twenty-plus years. The fact that he took a chance at sharing his poignant, painful and shocking story, and that Harper was willing to publish it, shows a level of bravery most people can only dream of obtaining.Any bibliophile can appreciate the power of the written word. As expressed by Mr. Wright, one can understand why education is such an important experience for the poverty-stricken. Without the written word, one could even argue that Mr. Wright would have never gathered the courage to leave the South. "Yes, this man was fighting, fighting with words. He was using words as weapons, using them as one would use a club. Could words be weapons? Well, yes, for here they were. Then, maybe, perhaps, I could use them as a weapon?" (pg. 272) Without this exposure to novels that he obtains through his illegal library card, he very literally would not become the man that he did. He very literally uses novels as a method of obtaining hope. What makes his story all the more special, as if it needs any further reason, is the sheer reverence he expresses towards the written word. Any fellow reader can appreciate the otherworldly awareness that Mr. Wright experiences when hearing his first real novel: "The tale made the world around me be, throb, live. As she spoke, reality changed, the look of things altered, and the world became peopled with magical presences. My sense of life deepened and the feel of things was different, somehow." (pg. 47)Mr. Wright shares his story with a forthrightness that a reader can appreciate, even when his story is painful or just downright uncomfortable. He confronts the truth directly, not shying away from sharing the hard lessons he faced. A reader is left both shocked and awed by his prose, as well as his story.As I was reading, I could not help but consider the lessons of Black Boy and the lessons to be learned by today's children. While racial inequalities still exist, they are no where as severe as they were in the 1930s. Would today's younger generations understand? Would they get the importance of the novel? Would they appreciate the struggles depicted? Can they glean an understanding of today's racial divide just by looking to the past? When put into this perspective, it becomes clear just how little time separates Mr. Wright's South from Rosa Parks' South from the South of today. Has enough really been accomplished? "Whenever I thought of the essential bleakness of black life in America, I knew that Negroes had never been allowed to catch the full spirit of Western civilization, that they lived somehow in it but not of it. And when I brooded upon the cultural barrenness of black life, I wondered if clean, positive tenderness, love, honor, loyalty, and the capacity to remember were native with man. I asked myself if these human qualities were not fostered, won, struggled and suffered for, preserved in ritual from one generation to another." (pg. 45)These are great questions that still have relevance today.Mr. Wright's story is remarkable in his depictions of his struggles. He fought not only to survive but to be an individual at a time and in a society where individuality was a deadly trait. His family tried to beat this individuality out of him; society tried to scare it out of him. Yet, he prevailed. Mr Wright could have easily succumbed to the pressures of society, but he stood firm. This is a lesson people of all ages and races can learn.
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Richard Wright’s writing style was rather unique compared to other authors. It was not a simple read nor was it an intricate one. I like the fact that it was a medium readable book. When he describes an event during the story, he uses a variety of words to explain what goes on in the book. The lengths of his sentences are not all long, but instead there is a mixture of short sentences and long one’s that are combined into a paragraph. I really enjoyed reading his descriptions because it felt as if you were actually right there with him while he goes through that moment. I thought this book related to me in a way through some of the characters. In the beginning of the book, Richard’s brother reminded me of myself when he reminds Richard to behave while Granny is in the other room resting because of her illness. His character reminds me of my relationship with my brother on how at times I would remind him to behave and make the right choice of not causing trouble. I would be more like a conscience to him, constantly reminding him of what he is about to do, which is similar to his brothers character. Richard’s mother also reminded me of my own mother. The way she sacrifices everything for her kids relates to my mom as well. My mother works hard and dedicates her time and effort to help my family out just like Richard’s mom did for her family. This book was an enjoyable read because it felt like you were beside Richard every step of the way while he goes through these traumatic events. I would recommend this book to anyone.
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