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Free Study Guide-Black Boy by Richard Wright-Free Online Book Notes
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 4

Summary

Living with granny, Richard is made to take interest in religion. As a member of the Seventh Day Adventist church, Granny makes him attend the church and listen to the sermons given on faith, forgiveness and sin. To please granny and justify his existence with her, he goes through the pretence of prayer and Godliness. Otherwise, he is only concerned about food and security. With his motherís illness, limited resources and grannyís religious diet, Richard is forced to curb his hunger and eat whatever little is given to him. To add to his woes, Aunt Addie comes to live with them. She takes up a job as a teacher in the religious school and enrolls Richard as a student in it. To cover up her insecurity, she often takes Richard to task. Once, she punishes him for dirtying the floor of the classroom, even though he is innocent. When he returns home, she calls him to the kitchen with the intention of beating him again. But this time Richard fights her and even takes out a knife to frighten her. Aunt Addie gets frightened and troubles him no more. However, he earns the disfavor of all the members of the family excepting his mother. Both his granny and aunt feel that God has condemned him. Richard is annoyed with their attitude.


When he is forced to attend special services in church, his mind gets distracted towards the choir singer. Granny is unaware of her grandsonís visionary escapades. She eventually realizes that her grandson does not have any faith in God and this makes her very worried. She tells him to pray and she is sure that this will eventually make him believe in God. Richard feels helpless to escape out of the situation. Thus, to divert his mind, he writes a story based on Indian history. He is happy to express his ideas in words and reads out the story to a friendly neighbor. The woman gives him an encouraging smile. Richard feels rewarded.

Notes

Richardís adolescent phase is imprisoned within the four walls of a religious atmosphere. His granny, a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, forces religion on him, with a hope to reform him. However, overdose of religion evokes a negative response in Richard. Instead of turning into a devout Christian with ardent admiration for God, Richard experiences carnal desires and creative inspiration. In the church, as his granny and aunt listen to the sermons and pray for their souls, Richard is drawn towards the choir singer and dreams about being intimate with her. At home, as his granny and aunt offer their prayers, he gets inspired to write a story. His imagination weaves a fantasy round an Indian of a bygone era. It is ironical and humorous too that Richard gets drawn towards the things that granny would like him to avoid.

Richardís rebellious spirit comes to the forefront, when he is punished unjustly. After Aunt Addie punishes him for a crime that he had not committed, he raises his voice against it and challenges her. In future too, his heart will rebel against injustice and he will protest against it either silently or through his actions. Through his attitude, he will antagonize his opponents. Richard makes a foray into the field of writing. Inspired by history but tired of religious sermons, he writes a story based on his knowledge of history. Though the story has no plot, he is delighted with his creative work. To get a positive response, he reads the story to a female neighbor who is at a loss to grasp the meaning of the tale. However, Richard feels rewarded that, living in a religious prison, he could give expression to his thoughts.

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