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Black Boy Study Questions

Your Name: _________________________ Chapter 1

How old is Richard when the book opens? What does he use to set the curtains on fire? What motivated him? Where did he hide? How was he punished? When he was punished, what did he see over his bed that scared him? Name a city or town in which RW (Richard Wright, the protagonist) lived. What did RW do to the kitty? Why cant RWs dad punish him? How did mom punish him? Why does RW keep losing his grocery money? What does RW do to keep his grocery money? How did RW start becoming an alcoholic? How did RW stop drinking? How did he learn dirty words? How did RW learn to count? What did RW do with the soap? What bothered RW about the preacher who came to dinner? Why did RW and his brother end up in an orphanage? What did kids do for chores at the orphanage? Why did RW end up in a police station? When RW sees his father and the strange woman by the fire, what happens? When RW visits his father 25 years later, what happened?

Chapter 2 What does RW say about the absence of real kindness in Negroes? What does RW learn from Ella the boarder? How does Granny react to Ella? How does RW react to this punishment? What does RW say to his granny when he is taking a bath? What happens when they fetch Grandpa? What does Granny look like? What does RW do with biscuits at Aunt Maggies house? What does Uncle Hoskins do to lose RWs trust? Why did the white men kill Uncle Hoskins? What did RW think were elephants? What did the black children do to Jews? What happens in the apartment next to Richard? What is odd about RWs new uncle, Professor Matthews? What present does this uncle give him? Why doesnt RW sell this present for a dollar? What happened to this present? What happens when RW is called upon to write something in front of the class? Chapter 3

Describe the typical conversations Richard has with his schoolmates. What did RW and his friends do to bible stories and hymns? When RW gets injured in a fight with the white gang and gets his scalp stitched up, what does his mother tell him? What is RWs response? What illness befalls RWs mom? What do the family members do to cope with the illness? Which Uncle takes RW into his home first? What is the first test RW takes at his new school? How does he do? What weapon does RW make to keep other boys from fighting him? Why doesnt RW want to live with Uncle Clark any more? What does Richard do to get whipped? What symbolic significance does RWs mothers suffering take? How does RWs suffering permanently affect his personality? Chapter 4 What religion does Granny practice? Why doesnt RW believe? Why is RWs position in the household a delicate one? Who is Grannys religious ally? Why is RWs teacher bitter and antagonistic toward RW? How are the kids at the religious school different from the kids at the public schools? What conflict causes RW to get into trouble in school? Why does RW react to the whipping by continuing to hold out his hand? What does RW do to defend himself against his aunt at home? What causes RWs aunt to laugh on Gods holy ground? What religious rules govern RWs life? What does RW do to occupy himself during the lengthy prayer services? Why are RWs classmates worried about him? What does RW tell his Granny that gets her all excited? What was the reaction in church? Describe the first story RW writes. What was the reaction when he showed it to his neighbor? Why does that reaction make RW smile? Chapter 5 Study Questions How does this book compare to the others you have read for this class? Do you like it more or less? What did Richard do in the previous chapter to allow him to be no longer set apart for being sinful(122)? What is Richards first test on the schoolyard? What is the outcome? What gives Richard hope that he could study medicine, engage in research, make discoveries? Why cant Richard get a job? Why does Richards job selling newspapers end? How does Granny get injured? What causes Aunt Addies renewed hatred toward Richard? What does Richard say is the role of religion in his life (136)? What does Richard see when he helps Brother Mance sell insurance? Why didnt Richards grandfather get his Civil War pension? What is the final conflict in chapter 5? How is it resolved?

Chapter 6 Study Questions What question does the white woman ask Richard that Richard finds so funny? What does that question show about whites attitudes toward blacks? When Richard tells the white woman about his ambitions to be a writer, what does she say? What does her answer show? What does Richard find shocking about the next white family he works for? What is the jobs effect on Richard? What does the preacher in the church do to trap Richard into getting baptized? How does Richard get into a conflict with his Uncle Tom? Describe the conflict and its resolution. What does Richard say to Uncle Tom to defeat him? Black Boy Study Questions Chapter 7 What year is it at the beginning of Chapter 7? _________ What physical attribute of RWs prevents him from getting some jobs? ________ Whats his first job at the brickyard? ___________________________________ What accident befalls RW at the brickyard? How does the white boss react when RW reports the accident? Why does RW hate golf? What is the name of the story he wrote? _________________________________ Summarize the conversation between the newspaper editor and RW. How did his classmates react when they read the story? How did his family members react? Granny Mom Addie How did RW feel about the general response to his story? What does the North mean to Richard? How is the educational system in the South rigged against him? Explain the metaphor he uses in the last paragraph of the chapter. Chapter 8 Study Questions On the first page of the chapter, RW describes the way whites and blacks in the South communicated with each other. What does he say? What changes RWs mind about working at the mill? Who is Bob? ______________________________________________What effect did Bobs death have on Richard? What makes RW definitely decided upon leaving home (173)? What honor did Mrs. Bibbs bestow upon RW? Why does the principal want RW to read the speech that the principal wrote? What does the principal try do to coerce RW into reading the principals speech? How is the principals attitude typical of Blacks who are in positions of power in the South? How are the principals speech and RWs speech different? What does RW buy for his speech? Chapter 9 Study Questions What brutality does RW witness at the clothing store? What did RW do to get hit between the eyes with a bottle? Why does RW get fired from the clothing store? What does Griggs notice about RW that makes RW have trouble in the white world? How was the optical job different from what RW had expected?

Describe the dilemma that Reynolds and Pease use to trap RW into quitting. Mr. Crane, a Northerner, tries to treat RW with respect. Why wont this work in the South, as seen with the episode with Reynolds and Pease? Chapter 10 Study Questions Summarize Richards feelings in the first two paragraphs. What according to Richard, is wrong with him (196)? Why is it difficult to correct this wrong? What does RW marvel at while working with other blacks in the hotel (196-7)? What do the white night watchmans actions show about racial attitudes toward black women? What convinces RW to commit crime? How do whites encourage black deceit and irresponsibility (200)? Why do white women not feel ashamed of nakedness around RW? How does RW justify stealing from the Jewish proprietor of the movie house? Describe the method used to steal money from the movie house. Chapter 11 Study Questions How is Mrs. Moss different from any person RW has ever met? What does Mrs. Moss want from RW? What does Mrs. Moss like about RW? Describe the peasant mentality of Mrs. Moss and Bess (214, right before the Dish Washer Wanted sign) What does love mean to Bess? How does RW unwittingly become a liquor smuggler? Chapter 12 Study Questions How is RWs new job at the optical factory in Memphis different from the previous optical factory job? Describe Shortys way of getting quarters. What about this method disgusts RW? Why cant Richard take money from the white Northerner in the department store (231)? Why does RW consider him his enemy (233)? How do the whites create between Richard and Harrison? Describe the boxing match. Ch 13 Black Boy Study Questions What about Mencken did RW find so appealing? How did RW check out books? How did the following people react to discovering these books? Mr. Falk White men RW worked with Mrs. Moss How did reading change RWs life? Ch 14 What had happened to Aunt Maggie since she had left with the professor who gave RW Betsy, the poodle? What comments do whites make to RW when they find out hes going North? What comments does RW make about the importance of books? What does he say the South represents? Why cant RW really leave the South?