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Free Study Guide-Black Boy by Richard Wright-Free Online Book Notes
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In summer, Richard struggles to earn enough, to buy clothes for himself and books for his next grade in school. Thus, he decides to take up an additional job. He visits the mill where Mr. Bibbs works, in order to get acquainted with the job he might take up. However, on meeting the workers and on learning about the dangers involved in the job, he gives up the idea of working in the place. His search for other jobs proves futile. To add to his woes, everybody at home, except his mother, treat him like a stranger. He hears about racial discrimination. A White man kills his friendís brother, because he suspects the Black boy of having an affair with a white prostitute. Richardís heart rebels against such injustice and he grows pensive.

Richard attends school with a heavy heart but there is a surprise in store for him. He is made the supervisor of the class. It is believed that if Richard does well in his present grade, he will be assigned the job of a teacher. Thus, the term ends and Richard is made the Valedictorian. He is asked to deliver the speech at the graduation ceremony. Richard feels honored and writes down his speech with a great deal of enthusiasm. However, his happiness is short lived. The principal calls him over to his office and gives him the speech that he must read at the function. Richard refuses to accept the speech on the moral ground that, it does not echo his sentiments. The principal is offended and decides to take back the offer of a teaching post that was allotted to Richard. His friends and relatives advice him to act according to the wishes of the principal, but Richard refuses to relent. Thus, on the appointed day, Richard delivers his own speech. Though he receives a guarded applause, he is happy that he has ended one chapter of his life on a note of resolution.


Richard is torn by both physical and mental needs. Hunger keeps nagging him, as he has very little to eat at home and nothing outside, since he has no money to buy food. Besides, he has to save money to buy books for his next grade. The little he earns at Mrs. Bibbs is just enough to supplement the household income. So, he seeks additional work at the mill. However, when he discovers that the work in the mill is both heavy and dangerous, he looks elsewhere for a job but does not find any. As he enters the ninth grade, he does not have proper food to eat, decent clothes to wear or even books to study.

Poverty and hunger are not his only enemies. As mentioned earlier, his guardians at home make life miserable for him. Granny calls him a sinner and a burden. Uncle Tom considers him a harmful companion and warns his daughter from talking to him. His brother returns back from Detroit and looks down upon him. Richard is regarded as a pest at home and isolated from other family members. His only solace is his sick mother.

Richard finds little consolation in the outside world. He has nothing much to share with his friends and thus, keeps to himself. The boys at school talk about their ambitions and discuss their future plans, while Richard is bothered about his daily existence. His sensitive nature and independent spirit also come in the way of his friendship with others. He is haunted by the incident of the Black boy being killed unjustly by a White man. The others however remain unperturbed. He is selected as the valedictorian. However, to his surprise, the principal himself prepares a speech and gives it to him. This is because Whites will be present in the audience. He refuses to accept the speech on moral grounds and shocks both his friends and relatives by this decision. Richard acts according to his conscience but the others think that he is foolish to antagonize the Principal and jeopardize his career.

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