Summary of the Novel Black Boy by Richard Wright: Author’s Struggles Among the White Opression

April 27, 2022 by Essay Writer

As a little child, Richard Wright was aware of the two different races, the black and the white, but he did not understand the idea of these two races in the South. In the first chapter, Richard explains how he believes that the whites are “merely people like other people”. He continues to explain how the difficulty of telling the difference between the two races comes from how some of his family members look white. An example he uses is his grandmother, a black woman but she looks very white.

Within the same chapter, Richard hears a rumor of a white man beating a black boy. Richard presumes that the white man was the boy’s father and that he has the right to beat his child. His mother corrected him and then refused to speak more about it, leaving Richard more confused. To add on, in chapter two Wright notices that there are two separate sections on the railroad for the white and black passengers. Richard, out of naive curiosity, wanted to go take a look at the white section but was stopped by his annoyed and frustrated mother. He then asks about his grandmother’s race but that annoys his mother even more and it irritates him too because no one wants to answer his questions about race.

As time goes by, Richer gets multiple jobs in which he works for white people. In these jobs he make conclusions and form views on racism based on how he is treated. In chapter five, Wright finds a job from his friend that his granny allows him to have. This job is to sell newspapers that come from Chicago. One day, Richard is stopped by one of his black customers and was told about what he is selling. He tells Richard that the paper that he has been selling has propaganda ads from the Ku Klux Klan. Richard was shocked because he thought that Chicago was a place where blacks are given equality to whites. He immediately stops selling the papers and his friend is also forced to stop selling it. In chapter 6, Richard goes on an interview for a job working in a house of a white family and is immediately asked if he steals.

Richard laughs and tells her that he does not steal but if he was going to he would not tell her. He gets the job in which he is feed only mold food. Although Richard know that whites don’t treat blacks well, he was not prepared to be mocked about his hope to become a writer. Richard gets another job which is working as a waterboy. While on the job he gets bitten by his boss’s dog and was told that “a dog bite can’t hurt a nigger”. Richard then started questioning this hatred that the whites had towards the blacks but no one would answer his questions.

Furthermore, in chapter 8, Richard was told about how his classmate’s brother was killed by white people because they suspected that he was “fooling with a white prostitute”. Wright starts to see the reality of the white oppression.


Read more