The making of the writer, Richard Wright In Richard Wright? s autobiography Black Boy Wright describes his life from a very young boy to his early twenties. He gives us a good perspective on what it is like to be a black person in the 1920? s.
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It is like you could give him a detonator to a bomb and he would push the button before asking what the button was for. But after all the punishment he gets for all the events he learns little by little that he need to think before speaking. It is not only from his family that he learns that, it is mostly strangers. Like when he was out on delivery for the clothing store and his bike brakes. Some white folks offer him a ride back to town, Wright says yes. When they offer him a drink he says “Oh, no”. He gets a whiskey bottle smashed between his eyes. The white man says “Nigger, ain? you learned no better sense? n that yet”. ”Ain? t you learned to say sir to a white man yet”. Wright realizes little by little that words are “weapons” and you get punished if you “shoot” the wrong person. Wright learns the power of words the tough way with beating and punishments. But when Wright discovers books, it changes his life. The first real story Wright writes is in 8th grade, the story is called “The Voodoo of Hell? s Half-Acre”. When the kids at school read the story in the newspaper they asked Wright why he wrote it and they think he copied it out of a book.
He doesn’t get any support from his family neither. Nobody in his society understands why he wants to become a writer. It sounds like it is the stupidest thing they ever heard. When Wright gets Ella to reads him a story from the book she is carrying, it is like a new reality to him. “She whispered to me the story of Bluebeard and His Seven Wives and I ceased to see the porch, the sunshine, her face, everything. As her words fell upon my new ears, I endowed them with a reality that welled up from somewhere within me”.
The story is so intriguing to him that he vows to himself that when he is old enough, he is buying all the novels he can. Nothing could change his mind after that. Wright realizes that books are a better reality that the reality he is living in now. It is his way of dreaming away from all the misery he is living in. But how is Wright so determined when most of the people he knows make fun of him and don’t understand why he wants to become a writer. Why can? t he just be like his family and the society around him wants him to be? Where is he getting all this inspiration? Anything seemed possible, likely, feasible, because I wanted everything to be possible … Because I had no power to make things happen outside of me in the objective world, I made things happen within”. It? s like he lives in his own nutshell, with windows and a door. He knows what’s outside and he even goes outside sometimes. But he just waits to find his place in society so he can leave his nutshell, come out and express everything on his mind. He hopes the north can give him that. The rumors Wright hears that in the north black people are treated better than in the south.
This makes Wright drops out of school so he can work more and save up more money to travel up there. When he gets there he is by himself for the first time in his life. No family or friends, we see that Wright is maturing and acting more like a man and not like the boy he used to be. When Wright first meets Mrs. Moss and her daughter Bess, he is really uncomfortable. He has no previous experience on how to deal with them. Mrs. Moss is like the complete opposite to his mother. But we see that during the stay in Memphis, he has more of a chance to stand up for himself.
He handles Bess? s overwhelming crush and establishes a workable relationship for all of them. Wright handles it like a more mature person. There is a transition from Richard as a boy to Mr. Wright, the writer he became when he wrote this book, two points of view going into one. When Wright gets help from his Catholic coworker to get a library card he finally fulfills his vow to himself to read all the novels he can get his hands on. This is the real beginning to his self-education. He reads and reads, every day he reads. He gets to know all the writers.
It is like he is swimming in parallel universes, but instead of universes he is swimming in different peoples? minds. “I was jarred and shocked by the style, the clear, clean, sweeping sentences”. He never read anything like it before. After reading book after books Wright gets a revelation. He is not alone anymore. There are other people like him out there, who feel and think like Wright does. They also feel like individuals in this society and the world they are living in. This makes Wright really satisfied. For the first time in his life he feels like he is part of a group, a society.
He wants to tell somebody about his discovery. He just wants to talk to somebody about this, tell about what he has learned and his dreams for the future. But Wright has nobody to talk to about this. His coworkers, friends, and family would not understand. They would ask Wright why he is reading, what? s the point? After Wright is satisfied he becomes sad. He knows he is not alone, but the people that share the same view and understanding as him are not around. He is still alone. Wright became a writer because that was his only way out.
He was an individual, trying to fit in to the society where he was born. It was the only way he could express himself, as an individual. Writing allowed him to say what was on his mind without getting punish for it. It was an escape from the reality he was living in. After learning more and more he became more secure on the path he had chosen. Words became his weapon in life. We see that writing and reading was his inspiration and motivation. He feels like he can do anything when he reads or writes
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