Black

Boy
Growing up as a Negro in the South in the early 1900’s is not that easy, for
some people tend to suffer different forms of oppression. In this case, it
happens in the autobiography called Black Boy written by Richard Wright. The
novel is set in the early part of the 1900’s, somewhere in deep Jim Crow

South. Richard Wright, who is obviously the main character, is also the
protagonist. The antagonist is no one person in particular, for it takes many
different forms called "oppression" in general. The main character
over comes this "oppression" by rebelling against the common roles of
the black, Jim Crow society. Richard Wright’s character was affected in early
childhood by the effects of societal oppression, but he became a great American
author despite these negative factors in his life. Today everyone encounters
some form of oppression. One of the forms Richard is encountering is called
societal oppression. As an example, after Richard sees a "black" boy
whipped by a "white" man, he asks his mother why did the incident
happen. His mother says, " ‘The "white" man did not whip the
"black" boy...He beat the "black" boy, ’ "(31). This
quote is showing racism, which is one way of society keeping Richard Wright, and
all other blacks in the South down. Another example is when is at the rail road
station with his mother, and as they are waiting for the train, he sees
something he has never seen, "...for the first time I noticed that there
were two lines of people at the ticket window, a "white" line and a
"black" line," (55). This excerpt is demonstrating how this scene
of Jim Crow laws is keeping a certain group of people apart, which is also
another form of societal oppression. Societal oppression occurs again when

Richard is "hanging" out with his friends, and their conversation with
each other leads on to the subject of war. One of his friends really get into
the subject and says, " ‘Yeah, they send you to war, make you lick them

Germans, teach you how to fight and when you come back they scared of you,’
"(90). This quote means that the "white" people put the
"black" people on the front line to defend our country, and when they
come back, they can not accept them, therefore they oppress them in different
ways, which is societal oppression. The last example happens when Richard wants
to borrow a library card, and so he thinks about asking his boss. After thinking
about it for a while, he knew he could not ask him, for he knows the boss is a

Caucasian Baptist, and Richard thinks that he would not be able to accept the
fact of a "black" boy, such as Richard, would want to read and
cultivate his intelligence. This would be considered societal oppression, for he
knows his boss does not want Richard to be enlightened with books, in turn
keeping Richard away from the light of knowledge. These are examples of societal
oppression that Richard Wright overcomes and rises to the top on his own.

Internalized oppression is a hard thing to overcome. One of the ways Richard

Wright is confronted with internalized oppression is when he sees a
"black" boy being beaten by a "white" man, so he
automatically thinks that the "white" man is the boys father.
"...Did not all fathers, like my father, have the right to beat their
children? A paternal right was the only right, to my understanding..."
(31). This excerpt is showing internalized oppression, for he thinks it is okay
for a parent to abuse their child, in turn having the child think that beating a
child is okay, and only a parent can do the beating, which is completely wrong.

Another case of internalized oppression occurs when Richard says a bad word, and
then his Aunt Jody lectures him by saying, " ‘Richard, you are a very
bad, bad boy,’ "(108). Later in the passage, he also says that he does
not care that he is a "bad boy." That states that Richard believes
that he is a bad person, which means he is experiencing internalized oppression.

Later in the novel, after Richard read some books, he then wants to use the
words he has learned as weapons, but he could not, because by him using the
words it frightened him. This is internalized oppression, for Richard thinks of
the words as something sacred only white people can use. If he did use the
words, he feels as though he may get into trouble. Later in the