Language and Identity in Richard Wright’s Black Boy


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Language and Identity in Richard Wright’s Black Boy



Richard Wright portrays the many aspects of social acceptance and the use of language as a key to identity throughout the novel. He brings the pages to life by using sufficient elements to enhance his writing. Through these displays of rhetorical techniques, the appeal to the reader is dramatically increased which results in a more personal and overall significant meaning to the book Black Boy.

The claim of social acceptance is especially evident throughout chapter ten. For example, ?I had no association with them; the religious home in which I lived, my mush-lard gravy poverty had cut me off from the normal processes of the lives of black boys my own age?. (219) The strongest tool used in this passage is that of point of view. Delivering such depth in his own personal emotion, Wright is able to more effectively present evidence. This appeal demonstrates emotional ethos, a technique to capture and somewhat influence readers? opinions. In addition, ?My throat grew tight with anger. I wanted to rush into the room and demand an explanation, but I held still.?(219) His style of writing has an effect so captivating with emotion and with great detailed imagery; it adds dramatic effect to the storyline. Wright?s clever tactics of using personal experience as evidence gives him a unique credibility based on emotion instead of the typical factual driven emphasis.

The influence of language as a key to identity is present in the passage on page 229. Wright?s abundant use of derogatory terms which describe him in dialogue supports his diction and tone. Wright uses such degrading profanity as a way to qualify and support his justifications of racial inequality. The white man?s cruel interpretations include that of: ?nigger, bastard, and sonofabitch.? Using such drastic and explicit words to describe black men convey Wright?s claim of fact. This develops a strong thesis and creates motivated assumptions. A strong use of repetition is present which also reinforces the attitudes of the white man.

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Furthermore, the content of Black Boy is strengthened by the significant role of rhetorical appeals. They compliment and add personality to his words, which then have a mind of their own. Wright used a distinguished variety of appeals to enable the perfect ?flow?. This remarkable effect better inhibits the reader proving his claim to be precise and accurately supported. Lastly, a better understanding is accomplished through his writing techniques to grasp the concepts Wright proclaimed to be most influential.


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