Essay Example on Racism As a boy Richard sees that some people have lighter Skin

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Racism As a boy Richard sees that some people have lighter skin and other people darker skin But he only understands what these distinctions mean culturally and politically after observing the bigotry of whites and the fear with which many black families live Meaning Black Boy shows in brutal detail the consequences of Southern racism and demonstrates that racial distinctions are not only inherent or biological but are also products of a society that is economically and political unequal Poverty Richard s physical inabilities and the privations of his life in Mississippi Arkansas and Tennessee Many characters in the story also suffer because African American families in the white dominated South didn t have access to proper food medicine and other life necessities Religion Christianity is the main religious system of the American South at the time of Richard s childhood Many African Americans in Mississippi seem to place their entire faith and hope for salvation in the Christian church But Richard can t believe in God and his struggles against religious authority contribute to his desire to leave the South Man vs Society the efforts of one man to chart his own path to realize his potential in a world that sometimes seems impossible to navigate Richard develops within and pushes against the constraints and rules of Southern society Richard struggles against white oppression against black expectations for normal behavior and against feelings of his own rootlessness Symbols of Black Boy Books Books symbolize an imaginative escape for Richard as he lives in grinding poverty and among terrible racial suppression and violence 



They allow Richard to develop as an individual and provide windows onto different parts of the world places Richard has not yet visited and can only dream of visiting one day after he has left the South The switch In many ways the opposite of the symbol of books the switch used for the beatings that make Richard s life in the South so terrible Although Richard lives in fear that he will be hurt by whites who hate him because of the color of his skin the switch is most often used by people within Richard s own family which is a reality he can't escape through books Black Boy Main Characters Richard Wright Author narrator and character of Black Boy Richard is an unpredictable bundle of contradictions he is timid yet assured tough yet compassionate enormously intelligent yet ultimately modest Growing up in an abusive family environment in the racially segregated and violent American South Richard finds his salvation in reading writing and thinking Ella Wright Richard s mother Tough on Richard and certainly unafraid to give a beating when she believes it is appropriate Ella nevertheless loves her son and is the person most resembling an advocate in his life Despite falling into ill health and becoming partially paralyzed she maintains an optimistic outlook in life Granny Richard s maternal grandmother

Austere and unforgiving Granny is a very strict Seventh Day Adventist and runs her household accordingly She thinks Richard is sinful has little tolerance for his antics and is inclined to demonstrate her disapproval with a quick backhanded slap across his mouth Like her husband Richard Wilson Granny is the child of slaves Due to her partially white ancestry she looks somewhat white LEON Richard s younger brother Leon does not contribute much to the story of Black Boy a few times he limply objects to something naughty that Richard is planning to do like burn straws in a fireplace or hang a kitten In this sense he serves as one of Richard s critics Aunt Addie One of Ella s sisters Addie lives at home with Granny in Jackson Mississippi She shares her mother s hatred for Richard and tries not to miss any opportunity to beat or embarrass him She shares Granny s intense religious nature and teaches at a religious school that Richard attends for a while Grandpa Richard s maternal grandfather and a former soldier in the Union Army during the Civil War

He keeps his distance from the family but is occasionally is out to discipline Richard Nathan Wright Richard s father Although Nathan is physically intimidating and frequently beats Richard he abandons the family and proves to be simple weak and pathetic Aunt Maggie Richard s favorite aunt Uncle Hoskins Maggie s first husband Uncle Hoskins is a friendly man but loses Richard s trust when he pretends to drive his buggy into the river to scare Richard Local whites murder Hoskins when they grow jealous of his profitable saloon Uncle Clark One of Ella s brothers Uncle Clark briefly houses Richard after his mother becomes ill Clark is a just upright man who seems genuinely concerned for Richard s welfare although perhaps a little strict Uncle Tom Another of Ella s brothers Like Aunt Addie Uncle Tom finds Richard particularly galling and seems to leap at any opportunity to beat or ridicule him Ella the schoolteacher A young schoolteacher who briefly rents a room in Granny s house Bookish and dreamy she introduces Richard to the imaginative pleasures of fiction by telling him the story of Bluebeard and His Seven Wives Granny however views Ella s stories as sinful and effectively forces Ella to move out Olin A white Southerner at Richard s job at the optical shop in Memphis Tennessee Racist and destructive Olin pretends to be Richard s friend but then tells lies to get Richard and Harrison to kill each other


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