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Free Study Guide-Black Boy by Richard Wright-Free Online Book Notes
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Another summer arrives. Richard is once again on the look out for a job, in order to earn enough to fill his stomach and get books for school education. Thus he gets employed as a water carrier and then as a brick picker in a nearby brickyard. The work is tiring and risky, but he undertakes it for want of a few dollars. However, he is left at lurch when the brickyard closes. When the school reopens, he attends it without any books but later, gets a job of three dollars a week. Hunger and deprivation isolate him from others and he starts contemplating about his future.

Richard gets promoted to the eighth grade. In between studies, he pens down his thoughts on paper. Thus he writes the story, "The Voodoo of Hellís Half-Acre" and also gets it published in a local Negro newspaper. His friends read his story but do not believe that he has written it. At home, granny and aunt question him about it and condemn him for writing such a devilish story. His mother also shows concern about his imaginative outpouring. Richard feels dejected by the negative response to his writing but does not lose hope. He cherishes a desire to go north and pursue writing, though he is haunted by doubts about his success. Thus, as he enters his fifteenth year, a conscious yearning for the unattainable drives him and he looks towards the future with mixed feelings.


Hunger and a desire to complete his education, compel Richard to take odd jobs during and after summer. Thus, as one more summer arrives, Richard finds himself in a brickyard as a water- carrier and a brick picker, earning an income of two and a half dollars per week. Whatever he earns goes into household expenses and he has very little left for himself. However when the brickyard closes, he has no money to buy his books for the next grade. Therefore he starts looking for another job and fortunately for him ha finds another one.

With every new job, Richard learns more about the attitude of the White people towards the blacks. His first woman employee doubts his integrity and intelligence. The next one laughs at his inability to handle a cow and milk it. The employer of the brickyard disregards the pain and injury caused to him and believes that he requires no medication. All of them lack sensitivity and fail to understand the emotions and desires of a precocious Negro youth like Richard.

Richardís experiences turn him into an introspective person. He is unable to understand the basis of racial discrimination. Why were the Whites inhuman and autocratic? And why were the blacks tolerating such unjust treatment? He is at a loss to understand such behavior. He finds it difficult to accept humiliation and abuses without protest. His spirit rebels against injustice. However, since he is unable to share his views with others, he turns contemplative.

Richardís suppressed feelings and creative energy find expression in writing. Thus, at the age of fourteen, he writes the eerie story "The Voodoo of Hellís Half-Acre." The editor of the local Negro newspaper notices his talent and decides to publish it in three parts in his paper. It is an achievement for a boy of his age, but no one appreciates his work. Both his granny and aunt call it a blasphemous piece of writing. His mother is concerned that such work might hamper his progress in the future. Thus, instead of encouragement and reward, he receives criticism and condemnation. Richard feels frustrated, but he does not lose hope. He becomes more resolute in his decision to go to north and pursue writing. He is aware that his ideal is lofty and difficult to achieve for a Negro. However, his urge to assert himself and reach out to others through his writing, pushes him towards his goal.

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