Native Son By Right

The Childhood, Education and Achievements of Richard Wright Richard Wright was
the son of an illiterate sharecropper. He was brought up in a dysfunctional home
where he suffered poverty and abandonment. He became an essential figure in the
development of African American literature, and has been called one of the most
powerful writers of the twentieth century. Although Richard Wright experienced a
poverty-stricken childhood, he managed to gain a partial education and finally,
achieved recognition as a great protest writer. Richard Wright suffered a
poverty-stricken childhood. His mother was a schoolteacher and his father worked
as a sharecropper until Wright was three, when the family moved to Memphis,

Tennessee. Wright and his younger brother hungered for affection, understanding,
and attention, as well as for food. They would comb their neighborhood begging
for food and money to help his family survive. Wright was also forced to steal
in order to eat. Critics say that Wrightís behavior was as a result of his
fatherís abandonment. At the age of five or six, Richardís father deserted
the family, making them victims of extreme poverty. Soon after, his mother
suffered paralytic strokes that left her dependant on her own mother. She was
forced to put Richard and his brother into an orphanage. After being sexually
molested in the orphanage, Richard ran away but he eventually had to return
until his mother returned for them. His motherís illness added more stress to
his tumultuous childhood because he was forced to discontinue his education at a
premature age and work to help his family survive. Richard worked many odd jobs
in places that were unsuitable for a child his age. He worked in saloons,
brothels, and even as a scavenger. His jobs in the South were marked by
harassment by whites and his own disdain for what segregation and racism had
done to his family. He felt that his family was forced to accept poverty. He
resolved to migrate to the North, to Chicago in 1927 at the age of nineteen and
found a job as a postal clerk. This was his third move in nineteen years (Wertham

321-325). He went to live at his uncleís house and it was there that he had
his first encounter with racial hatred and violence. He witnessed the murder of
his uncle by a group of white men trying to seize his property. Fearing for
their lives, they had no choice but to move again. Richard was sent to his
grandmotherís home in Jackson at the age of eight. His grandmother was a
devout Seventh Day Adventist and a stern disciplinarian who according to Arnold

Rampersad, tried to crush Wrightís childhood interest in the world of
imagination. Eventually, Richard left his grandmotherís home and continued
shuttling between relatives (Rampersad 11). Richard was unable to complete his
education. It is very uncharacteristic for someone with such little formal
education to become such a renowned writer, but Richard Wright was an exception
to the rule. Despite not finishing high school, Richard decided that he would
educate himself. He would go to the library and forge a white personís name in
order to get books out. He read constantly in his spare time while he continued
to work to help take care of his ailing mother. When Richardís came out of the
orphanage, he had to adopt the position as provider and caretaker of his mother
and little brother. Richard resented his mother putting him into an orphanage
and in his eyes she became an embodiment of passivity and victimization. The
only thing that kept Richard happy was the long hours he spent reading the books
that he illegally took out of the library. As provider for his family,

Richardís responsibilities were overwhelming, and even though he was only a
boy he still did what he had to do for his family (Margolies 65-86). According
to Richardís classmates at Jacksonís Smith-Robertson School, he always had
his head in a book. It seems fitting that after he was forced to leave high
school, he continued to educate himself. He resolved to migrate to the north, to

Chicago in 1927 at the age of nineteen and found a job as a postal clerk. At
this period he also became interested in communism and joined the Communist

Party. He was also encouraged to write from the Communist Party. He seemed to
have inbred literary skills despite of his lack of schooling. Writing became

Richardís passion and it was something he still continued to do even after he
left the Party (Clark 12-15). It was stated that Richard Wright