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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 5

Summary

Richard tries to have the best of life by having fun with the children of his age group. Granny and Aunt Addie give him up as a bigot. Richard enrolls himself in a school. He is thrown in the company of boys who try to bully him but he challenges them and asserts his identity. He concentrates on his studies and gets promoted to the sixth grade. However, he has no money to spend on his clothes and lunch. Thus, most of the days he goes hungry. Then, on the suggestion of one of his classmates, he decides to sell newspapers. He gets the permission of his grandmother before starting on his job. The income he earns out of the job makes him have his lunch in school. And the stories in the newspapers fill his imagination. However, his stint at selling newspapers terminates, after he is informed that the paper was being published by a racist organization.

Hunger becomes his companion again. During summer, he takes up a job as a helper to an insurance agent and earns five dollars a week. The job involves travelling and meeting black laborers. Richard earns good income from it and his family is happy about it. However, luck runs out again, after the demise of Brother Mance, the insurance agent. As Richard enters the seventh grade, he has very little to eat. To make matters worse, grandfather falls seriously ill and dies. The house turns gloomy and Richard feels isolated. He decides to take up a job on Saturdays, even though granny is against it. However, his mother is happy with his decision.


Notes

Richard feels isolated in the house because of rigid rules, religious discipline and adult company. His granny and Aunt Addie consider him a sinner, as he is more interest in worldly pleasures than in God. They turn a blind eye to the feelings and desires of an adolescent. They restrict his life with the tenets of Christianity. His mother is sick and hence, unable to provide him companionship. Thus, Richard feels imprisoned inside the house. To escape from this claustrophobic atmosphere, he goes out to spend time with boys of his age group.

At school, he rejoices in the company of friends. He also delights in observing scenes of nature. Later, he takes pleasure in reading stories from magazines and journals. Reading makes him forget the harsh realities of life like hunger and sickness and transports him to a world of fantasy. After a long time, Richard attends school and continues with his education. He excels himself in studies and gradually gets promoted to the seventh grade. Despite restrictions at home, pangs of hunger and extra work outside, he makes progress in school since he is determined to educate himself. He also finds time to read articles and stories and thus expands his mental horizon.

Richard shows determination and will power as he overcomes the hurdles of his life. Religion retards Richardís progress in life. Grannyís religious belief that Saturday be treated as a rest day stops Richard from taking up a job on that day and earning money to satisfy his physical and mental hunger. Religious arguments between granny and aunt disturb his peace of mind. Hence, Richard prefers to stay out or read fiction, to escape from this atmosphere. Richardís animosity towards his aunt increases, as she tries to curb his curiosity and blames him for causing tension to granny. Her autocratic behavior and unjust ways irritate Richard. Grannyís religious discipline also disgusts him and he makes her aware of his dislike.

He ignores their warning and bypasses their wish by joining school and earning his livelihood. Richard thus, learns to assert his identity. Richardís grandfather symbolizes a life of futility. He leads a monotonous and meaningless life. He keeps waiting for his pension but does not get it. He blames the officials for it but never takes any serious action against them. He leads a passive life at home and lives in the shadow of granny. His life is like that of the common Negro, who resigns to his fate and dies in anonymity.

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