Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | Barron's Booknotes
‘Oppression as the root cause of fear and rebellion’ is the major theme of the novel. From his childhood, Richard is denied his right as a human being and unjustly punished. He is curbed from indulging in playful activities and interesting hobbies like reading. Such restrictions create fear in his heart against individuals and their motives. It also provokes him to rebel against his tormentors. Other Negro boys like him also nurture hatred for their White Oppressors but are afraid to act for fear of punishment.
The minor theme of the novel is ‘Frustration as the outcome of conflict of desires.’ Richard’s desire to enjoy life, pursue his interests and achieve his goal contradicts with the views of his antagonists and leads to frustration. This at times results in Richard acting harshly. But most of the times he suffers silently.
The mood of the autobiography is grave, as it traces the struggle and sufferings of a sensitive Negro, who tries to establish his identity in an unjust world dominated by callous White men and ruthless communists. Richard stumbles on numerous hurdles, before reaching his goal. He remains hungry and jobless for long, but does not lose hope. His faith in humanity and justice lightens the gloomy atmosphere of the novel. The autobiography is thus a poignant but interesting study of human endurance.