Reading Journal on Horace A. Porter's Essay

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In his essay The Horror and the Glory: Wright’s Portrait of the Artist in Black Boy and American Hunger, Horace A. Porter examines and analyzes the development of Richard Wright as a writer. He starts off at the beginning of Black Boy, naturally, to establish where Wright’s initial spark of creativity came from. Porter states that this trigger parallels the reasoning behind Wright’s motive behind lighting his curtains on fire— that it was “an odd combination of boredom, curiosity, and imagination”. Early in his childhood, Wright learns the power of the spoken, as well as the written, word, though the way he learns it is morally questionable. Because of boredom, Wright idles around bars until intoxicated adults rush him inside. There, for their own amusement, he learns obscene words and naively repeats them to his family members. He was punished for this, but he didn’t know why until later. The same can be said about the words written on the windows of the town in soap letters— the shock and ill-concealed amusement of the neighbors perplexes Wright. Though this discovery of the power in language starts his curiosity in writing, Porter explains that it was “Wright’s later anxiety and guilt over having turned his back on his father’s world” that urges him to write. With this newly found power, Wright believes he can finally retaliate against the foundations of society, against the subservience of the blacks, and start a revolution towards racial equality. The awareness of the aforementioned inequality does not come naturally to Wright, though. His mother teaches him how to survive, though he never says this outright, in a white-dominated world. She was always suffering from illness throughout her life and Wright ties her chronic illness with “the ills and injustices in society”. Wright also states that his mother’s illness shapes his entire persona, tainting his

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