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Violence in Richard Wright’s Black Boy Essay

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Violence in Richard Wright’s Black Boy


Most literary works centering on adolescence do not depict it as the proverbial walk through the park; a smooth transition between the naivet6 and innocence of childhood to the morality and self -awareness of adulthood is an implausibility confined to the most basic of fairy tales and weekday morning children’s television programming. When analyzed in depth, the mat uration process of a human being is depicted almost always as some sort of struggle, retaliation against the forces of oppression regardless of their forms (including social, political or religious obstacles). More importantly, the struggle of adolescence is a struggle to understand not the workings of one’s environment so much as the complexities and definitions of one’s own identity. Body hair, voice undulations, wider hips – these popular aspects of maturation pale in comparison with the development of self-awareness: the realization that one is a unique human being with the right to survive and live life according to personal standards. Psychoanalyst Erik Erikson describes this delicate transitional period as a crisis of identity:It occurs in that per iod of the life cycle when each youth must forge for himself some central perspective and direction, some working unity, out of the effective remnants of his childhood and the hopes of his anticipated adulthood; he must detect some meaningful resemblance b etween what he has come to see in himself and what his sharpened awareness tels him others judge and expect him to be. In some young people, in some classes, at some periods in history, this crisis [of identity] wil be minimal; in other people, classes, and periods the crisis wil be clearly marked off as a critical pe...


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...nt in the future can one possibly change his or her downtrodden situation, can mold, shape and tune their lives with al the freedom that comes from possessing an individual identity.

Works Cited

Elison, Ralph. Invisible Man . New York: Vintage, 1995. Erikson, Erik. Young Man Luther. New York: Norton, 1962.

Howe, Irving. “Black Boys and Native Sons,” CriticalEssays on Richard Wright. ed. Yoshinobu Hakutani. Boston: G.K. Hal and C o., 1982. 39 -47.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Mules and Men . New York: Harper Perennial, 1990.

Kinnamon, Kenneth and Michael Fabre. “How Richard Wright Looks at Black Boy,” Conversations with Richard Wright. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1993 . 63-66.

Margolies, Edward. The Art of Richard Wright. Carbondale: Southern Ilinois University Press, 1969.

Wright, Richard. Black Boy . New York: Perennial Classics, 1998.


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