My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Richard Wright’s autobiography illustrates the precarious nature of black life in America of old, particularly in the south better than any other novel I’ve ever read. His depiction of the daily dance with danger encountered by the browned skin among us remain fresh in my mind despite being nearly 40 years since I read it.
This was a reading assignment in my American Literature class at the University of Iowa. So of course, repeated classroom discussions afforded more in-depth analysis about this book than I would get from a book I read on my own. Just the same, I can’t ignore the fact that it still resonates. To me that is the embodiment of a Literary Hall of James classic. *
This is by no means the only book I’ve read that was bolstered by study and the pressure of grades. Yet at least seven incidents from his story remain lodged in my mind. Each episode underscored one or more harsh truths about life for those of us clothed in an ebony skin trying to survive Jim Crow America. And as perilous as it could be for ordinary black people it was even more so for an oddball like him.
The fear, savagery, and betrayal along with constraints enforced upon him by law and equally binding custom extracted a psychological price, a black tax of sorts that was levied upon his spirit. The novel displayed a youth hemmed between white peoples’ dehumanizing humiliation and black peoples isolating ostracization.
The author even as a young child isn’t particularly loveable. The felineicide incident and other delinquent like behavior doesn’t give readers cause to embrace him. Still, much of what he encountered was just plain wrong. However, the author’s examination of himself and society in Black boy is just plain right.
* Hall of James worthy are the best ever reads and receive 5 stars