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Part One: Southern Night
At Richardsí grandmotherís house. He sets some curtains on fire which leads to the house catching on fire. The family moves to Memphis. Richard hangs a cat after his father tells him to (sarcastically) Richardís mother punishes him. At six while hanging out at a saloon he becomes a drunkard. At this age there are no racial differences to him. Richard and his brother are taken to an orphanage to live. His father has left the family for another woman. His mother is ill and canít work.
His mother takes Richard and his brother to live at their grandmotherís house. They move to Arkansas to live with Maggie and her husband b/c grannyís religious rules ties them down. Maggie and Richardís mother are sisters. Maggieís husband, a successful saloon owner, is killed. In fear for their lives they go back to grannyís house. They then move back to Memphis. Aunt Maggie left with a man who killed a white woman.
Richardís mother had a stroke. Her left side was paralyzed. They went to live with Granny. Afterwards Richardís brother goes to live with Aunt Maggie in the north. Richard goes to live with Uncle Clark. After finding that a boy died in his room he canít sleep. He finally went home to Granny. His mother is living at Grannyís her health is improving.
Richard is twelve years old. The poetry of religious hymns inspires Richard to write his own poetry. Richard isnít religious his granny tries to convert him. One day at church he tells his grandmother that if he ever saw an angel he would believe. His grandmother misunderstands him and thinks that he has seen an angel. His grandmother tells everyone that he has seen an angel. Afterwards Richard apologizes and promises to pray for salvation. When he prays he finds nothing to say to God. This is when he writes his first story. Richard is given up by the family. He is an outsider.
Richard wants to earn some money to buy lunch . His granny wonít let him work on the weekends. So he threatens to leave. Granny gives in. He starts selling papers. He enjoys the supplementary section of the newspaper. It has stories in it. When Richard finds out that they are published by the Ku Klux Klan he stops selling them. In the summer he takes the job of an assistant to an illiterate insurance salesman. But his employer dies during the winter. Richards grandfather dies. Richardís grandfather served in the Union Army. He spent the rest of his life expecting the government to give him his pension.
Richard gets a job working for a female white. She insults him by giving him moldy bread and old molasses. When she inquires what grade he is in school he tells her that he is in the 7th grade and that he wants to be a writer. The white woman tells him that he will never be a writer. He doesnít return to the job the next day.
Richard is now in 8th grade. When he writes a story for a local black newspaper everyone is confused by it. This wasnít expected of a Black Boy.
As Richard gets older he is isolated from his classmates and relatives. His brother, who comes to visit, also becomes critical of his ways. He also finds out that his uncle Tom is telling his cousin Maggie to stay away from him. Richard wants to leave. Richard is valedictorian of his 9th grade class. The principal wants Richard to read a speech he has written. Richard has already prepared a speech. The principal threatens that Richard will not graduate if he doesnít read his speech. Richard reads his own speech. He is isolated even more by his peers and relatives. In the year 1925 he goes out into the world at the age of 17.
As he works at different places the hatred of white people follow. He is beaten up by white boys. He is fired from one job for seeing the beating of a black woman. At an optical house he is mistreated by his white co-workers. His employer who is
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Black Boy, Granny
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