Black Boy, And Th Struggle For Finding A Figure Of Manhood To Emulate Essay, Research Paper
Black Boy is an autobiography about Richard Wright’s life, and his struggle for freedom. Throughout this book, Richard strives to find a model of manhood to emulate, but ultimately fails.
Richard fails in finding manhood to emulate in his father. In the beginning of the book Richard’s father leaves his mother for another woman, making life for Richard’s family even more so difficult. “ After all, my hate for my father was not so great and urgent as my hate for the orphan home,” says Richard. When his father left, Richard and his brother were put into an orphan home, in order for their mother to work. When Richard, his mother, and his brother go to try to get money from Richard’s father, all he offers is a nickel to Richard which Richard refuses. Richard said that many years after, the picture of his father and the other woman by the fire, “ would surge up in my imagination so vivid and strong that I felt I could reach out and touch it.” Richard was unable to find manhood to emulate through his father.
Richard also is unable to find manhood to emulate through his Uncle Tom. Richard’s Uncle Tom and his family come to live with Richard. One morning when Richard was sleeping, his Uncle Tom asks him what time it is. Richard mumbles eighteen past five, and his uncle asks if that is right. Richard again mumbles, yes, and then curls back down into his pillow. Then he says, “ If it’s a little slow or fast, it’s not far wrong.” Then Uncle Tom says back with an angry voice, “ What on earth do you mean boy?” Richard finds himself very confused at this, not understanding what is going on. Richard asks what is wrong with what he said, and his Uncle tells him to “ Shut up!” He then says that, “ This day I’m going to give you the whipping some man ought to have given you a long time ago.” Richard grabs razors, feeling that he should fight back, because there is no reason for him to be beaten. When Uncle Tom sees that Richard has razors, he starts to get angry to fight back, but then gives up. He knows that Richard will not give up. He starts to cry, and says to Richard, ‘“ You think you’re a man, but you’ll learn, and you’ll learn the hard way, I wish I could be an example to you.”’ Although Richard resents the way Uncle Tom acts towards him, Uncle Tom is only trying to do it for Richard’s benefit. Uncle Tom is trying to teach Richard how he should act towards a white man, because Richard does not know how to act, and does not know his place in society as a “ Black Boy.” Richard does not talk to Uncle Tom anymore.
Richard also fails to find manhood to emulate in Uncle Hoskins. One day while Richard was living with his Aunt Maggie, Uncle Hoskins decides to take him out on the buggy. When they are in the buggy, they approach a river. The horse begins to go into the river, as Richard yells, “‘ The river’s deep!” Uncle Hoskins says, “ The horse has to drink.” Richard is very frightened as the buggy goes deeper into the water, and struggles to escape the buggy. When they get farther into the water, the buggy is still safe, and they are fine. Richard is still scared and demands to be let out. Uncle Hoskins did not tell Richard that there is, “‘ Stone and brick way down under that water. You could wade out half a mile and it would not come over your head.”’ He does not tell Richard this, because he is trying to scare Richard into realizing he is not as tough as he thinks he is. After that Richard says, “ I never trusted him after that. Whenever I saw his face the memory of the terror upon the river would come back.” Once again Richard does not realize that his uncle is trying to teach him his place in society as a “black boy”, and does not like Uncle Hoskins anymore.
The first time we see the “ white’s,” feeling of superiority towards “ blacks,” is when Richard comes upon a gang of white boys. When he is walking to the grocery store, he says
They came toward me and I broke into a wild run toward home. They overtook me and flung me to the pavement. I yelled, pleaded, kicked, but they wrenched the money out of my hand. They yanked me to my feet, gave me a few slaps, and sent me home sobbing.
Another time we see what happens when “ a black boy forgets his place in society,” is when Uncle Hoskins is killed.
I learned afterwards that Uncle Hoskins had been killed by whites who had long coveted his flourishing liquor business. He had been threatened with death and warned many times to leave, but he had wanted to hold on a while longer to amass more money,
Richard says after Uncle Hoskins is killed. When Uncle Hoskins forgot his place in society as a black man, his penalty was death. Richard forgets his place in society as a “ black boy” one time when he is going home, when his bicycle tire was punctured. A car full of white men approach, and all the men are passing around a bottle in the back seat. A man tells Richard to hold on to the car while he drives. Richard is holding on, and the car is pulling him, when a man asks Richard if he wants a drink. Richard replys with, “‘Oh, no!”’Then one of the man throw an empty bottle at Richard’s head, causing hom to fly backwards into the road. Then one of the men say, “‘Nigger, ain’t you learned no better sense’n that yet? ‘ ain’t you learned to say sir to a white man yet.”’ Bad things happen when a black man or boy forgets their place in society.
Richard ultimately fails at finding manhood to emulate. Uncle Hoskins, and Uncle Tom try to teach Richard to realize his place in society as a “ black boy.” The time that Richard Wright lived was a time in which a black man could not address a white man without saying sir, or even look a white man in the eye without him being offended. In Black Boy, Richard makes you feel like you lived during that time, and makes you feel like your in his place. Richard was a strong boy, and stood up for what he believed in, and sometimes forgot his place in society as a “black boy.”