The Constant Struggle In Richard Wright's Black Boy

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In Richard Wright’s personal narrative Black Boy we are given a first hand account of what life was like growing up in the Jim Crow south for an African American Boy. Wright’s whole childhood and young adult life is a constant struggle to satisfy his hunger. Wright’s hunger is literal at first. His father leaves his family when Wright is young, and Wright’s mother struggles to feed Wright and his brother. Wright is often starving as a child, and does not know how he will be getting his next meal or where it will come from. His hunger grows beyond a physical hunger as he begins to grow hungry for knowledge, and eventually it grows into a hunger for a better life away from the Jim Crow South. Hunger haunts Wright and follows him almost everywhere…show more content…
For example, Wright is enrolled in school late due to his family’s extreme poverty and that whites try to keep African Americans uneducated as a form of oppression. But that does not stop Wright. His mother helps him to learn to read by reading the newspaper, and the coal deliveryman teaches him to count. Wright has grown to fear the color white. So much so that as a child he runs away from a foster home and encounters a white police officer and does not know if the police officer is going to hurt him or not. All African Americans in the Jim Crow South are constantly living in fear just as Wright is. Wright has very few school years that he actually finishes due to the fact they constantly have to move around to stay safe and for Wright and his mother to find enough work to survive. Wright faces extreme racism at every job he works also. When he is younger, he helps out whites around their houses for pay and he seems to be treated the same way he would have been treated if he were their slave. Later, Wright is working for an optics company in Jackson and addresses one of his white coworkers without calling him Mister. Wright’s coworkers are on the verge of beating him with a metal pipe as punishment just for not calling Pease by his sir name. Wright gets another job for an optical company in Memphis, where it seems he is being treated better. Until one day when Wright’s boss, Mr. Olin, tries to trick him and another black boy into killing each other for pure entertainment. Mr. Olin tells Wright “a little while ago I went down to get a Coca-Cola and Harrison was waiting for you at the door of the building with a knife. He asked me when you were coming down. Said he was going to get you.” This does not work because Wright figures out what is going on, but eventually they pay Wright and Harrison to beat each other senseless boxing. Most
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