The Art of Richard Wright

By Edward Margolies | Go to book overview

9
Social Freudianism The Long Dream

When Richard Wright planned The Long Dream he evidently foresaw it as the first in a series of books dwelling on the life and career of Fishbelly Tucker, a Mississippi Negro boy who goes to live in France. 1 The autobiographical resemblances between the author and his protagonist are not however confined to mere geography. In many respects the psychic lives of the two appear to be very close -- not to mention the fact that they both seem to have shared almost identical traumatic experiences. A reading of Black Boy alongside The Long Dream is instructive in this regard. Both Wright and Fishbelly, for example, at the age of six discover that their fathers are having illicit relations with women. Both boys have dreadful fears of being abandoned by their mothers; indeed Fishbelly has a dream not unlike the nightmares the four- year-old Wright suffered in the opening pages of Black Boy. Both boys do not come into any real contact with the brutality of the white world until their adolescent years, a fact which may account for their singular independence of spirit and defiance of caste ordinances. As a result both Fishbelly and Wright come to the conclusion that they are unable to accept the traditions and values of either white world or black, and must therefore seek the meaning of their lives in a different environment. In The Long Dream and Black Boy critical moments are described relating to the lynching and mutilation of a Negro bellhop who had

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