Black Boy, Notes

Black Boy, Notes

Black Boy, Notes

Black Boy, Notes

Synopsis

The original CliffsNotes study guides offer expert commentary on major themes, plots, characters, literary devices, and historical background.

Including

  • Life and Background of the Author
  • Introduction to the Novel
  • List of Characters
  • Critical Commentaries
  • Character Analyses
  • Critical Essays
  • Essay Topics and Review Questions
  • Selected Bibliography

    Black Boy marks the culmination of Richard Wright’s best-known period, his so-called Marxist period. As such, it must be treated separately from the books that followed. Although it is possible that he might have written this autobiography of his childhood the same way many years later, it is likely that his point of view would have been altered by the changes in his political philosophy. As it stands, Black Boy is as profoundly American as it is a distinctly black chronicle.

    Written while Wright was a fervent Communist, the book explores the theory of human behavior determined by environment. Yet, innate in its fatalism is the author-narrator’s ultimate escape from a rigid set of rules for survival. In Wright’s boyhood, there was virtually no chance for a personality such as his to develop freely. Everything conspired against personal freedom--not only the white social structure, but the black as well. He was treated brutally and tyrannically at home in order to prevent his being treated the same way--or worse--outside the home. His parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents enforced the code of conduct given to them by the white power structure: black children must never strive to be more than black children; if they do, not only will they suffer a terrible fate, but their families will as well. This way of life leads to a kind of society which has been called...

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