Black Boy (HarperCollins) by Richard Wright

By Richard Wright

Richard Wright grew up within the woods of Mississippi, with poverty, starvation, worry, and hatred. He lied, stole, and raged at these round him; at six he used to be a "drunkard," striking approximately taverns. Surly, brutal, chilly, suspicious, and self-pitying, he was once surrounded on one part by means of whites who have been both detached to him, pitying, or merciless, and at the different by means of blacks who resented somebody attempting to upward thrust above the typical lot. Black Boy is Richard Wright's strong account of his trip from innocence to adventure within the Jim Crow South. it really is without delay an unashamed confession and a profound indictment—a poignant and annoying checklist of social injustice and human affliction.

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But when I came abreast of them someone shouted. ” 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. My mother met me at the door. “They b-beat m-me,” I gasped. ” I started up the steps, seeking the shelter of the house. “Don’t you come in here,” my mother warned me. I froze in my tracks and stared at her.

When they refused, I ran after them and they tore out for their homes, screaming. The parents of the boys rushed into the streets and threatened me, and for the first time in my life I shouted at grownups, telling them that I would give them the same if they bothered me. I finally found my grocery list and the money and went to the store. On my way back I kept my stick poised for instant use, but there was not a single boy in sight. That night I won the right to the streets of Memphis. Of a summer morning, when my mother had gone to work, I would follow a crowd of black children—abandoned for the day by their working parents—to the bottom of a sloping hill whose top held a long row of ramshackle, wooden outdoor privies whose opened rear ends provided a raw and startling view.

It ain’t going to hurt ’im,” another said. “It’s a shame,” a woman said, giggling. “Go home, boy,” somebody yelled at me. Toward early evening they let me go. I staggered along the pavements, drunk, repeating obscenities to the horror of the women I passed and to the amusement of the men en route to their homes from work. To beg drinks in the saloon became an obsession. Many evenings my mother would find me wandering in a daze and take me home and beat me; but the next morning, no sooner had she gone to her job than I would run to the saloon and wait for someone to take me in and buy me a drink.

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