what is the main thrust of Richard Wright's" black boy"?

what is the main thrust of Richard Wright's" black boy"?

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1 year ago
This book is significant not just for its terrific writing and compelling story, but as a milestone in American literature and culture. Here is early 20th century American history as viewed from the African American experience, emerging at a time when the majority white voice dominated the landscape.

Southern Night
Let's summarize, starting with the first section, 'Southern Night.' The book begins with Richard as a four-year-old boy in Mississippi. He's mischievous and inquisitive. Unfortunately, he also has access to fire. He sets fire to his grandparent's house. Ella, his mother, promptly beats him unconscious.

The women in Richard's life, including his Granny, are very religious Seventh-day Adventists. Richard has little interest in religion as a young boy and as he grows up. This, of course, causes conflict.

After the fire, the family relocates to Memphis, Tennessee. Nathan, his father, moves in with another woman. This leaves the family to starve. Richard blames his father for his hunger, which is ever-present. He writes:

'Hunger stole upon me so slowly that at first I was not aware of what hunger really meant. Hunger had always been more or less at my elbow when I played, but now I began to wake up at night to find hunger standing at my bedside, staring at me gauntly. The hunger I had known before this had been no grim, hostile stranger; it had been a normal hunger that had made me beg constantly for bread, and when I ate a crust or two I was satisfied. But this new hunger baffled me, scared me, made me angry and insistent. Whenever I begged for food now, my mother would pour me a cup of tea, which would still the clamor in my stomach for a moment or two; but a little later I would feel hunger nudging my ribs, twisting my empty guts until they ached. I would grow dizzy and my vision would dim. I became less active in my play, and for the first time in my life I had to pause and think of what was happening to me.'

At six, Richard is making fun of the drunks at a saloon when they spot him and decide to get him drunk for their amusement. He ends up as a very young alcoholic. His mother has to temporarily place him and his younger brother Alan in an orphanage (where his drinking problem ends). Then they go to Arkansas to live with Ella's sister Maggie and her husband Hoskins. Hoskins is a successful saloon owner, which would be great, but the white townsfolk are jealous of his success and they murder him and threaten the family.

Ella then suffers a paralytic stroke and Richard must scrape together money for food. He's back at Granny's house in Mississippi now. He briefly goes to live with his Uncle Clark, but then finds out that another young boy died in the bed he's sleeping in, so he goes back to Granny. But he clashes with her and his aunts. He's into atheism while they're into beating religion into him. Richard learns to defend himself with violence. He has numerous fights at school, and he fends off his relatives with knives and razors.
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