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In Black Boy, by Richard Wright, Wright is able to recollect the struggles of
his life. Beginning at an early age, he was faced with the problems of hunger.
His hunger starts off as a hunger for food, but later becomes a hunger for
knowledge. This constant hunger puts him in a spot where he is dehumanized and
alienated. Wright reflects on his hunger, at an older age, which allows himself
to form his identity. He realizes that the hunger, dehumanization, and
alienation of his life are the things that make his identity.
Wright develops his mind at a young age, along with the progression of his
hunger. Wright is six years old when his father leaves the family. Not only does
he leave his children without a father figure, but also he leaves his wife and
children without a dime to buy food. "I would feel hunger nudging my ribs,
twisting my empty guts until they ached." Although Wright had known hunger
before his father had left, the hunger he knew was only momentarily. Wright
hungered, but his hunger would be satisfied with food. "But this new hunger
baffled me, scared me, made me angry and insistent." As his mind is
beginning to develop, he is given a preview of the racial inequalities of the
south at the turn of the century. "Watching the white people eat would make
my empty stomach churn and I would grow vaguely angry. Why could I not eat when
I was hungry? Why did I always have to wait until others were through? I could
not understand why some people had enough food and others did not."
Although his white neighbors were not purposely putting him down, they
indirectly taught him a difficult lesson that would be impossible to avoid. He
sees that white people have a family [with a father], food on the table. He sees
how whites - even if they do not mean to make Blacks feel lesser of themselves -
will hold superiority over them. This "preview" shows him a
complicated concept as simply as possible.
Wright let his resentment towards his father grow, which causes his hunger to
grow. Wright comes to the realization that he cannot allow his father to
dominate him. He liberates himself from the feelings he once had about his
father, and does not allow his father to consume his every thoughts and feelings
about hunger. "I did not want my father to feed me; I was hungry, but my
thoughts of food did not now center about him." Wright and his mother took
his father to court, but his father exclaimed that he would not give money to
Richard and his family because he did not have enough to support himself. When
his mother could no longer support or feed Richard and his brother she put them
in an orphanage. He escaped, but looked back at what he had done. He pondered to
himself, "No; hunger was back there, and fear." Hunger now reflected
the fear imposed on him at the orphanage.
Wright began going to school. His mind is being fed intellectually, but his
physical hunger remains. Strangers try to vanquish his hunger, but he does not
want charity from others.
"Granny" forces religion on him with a hope to reform him. Wright
goes through a reform; although, it is not a religious one. "… I knew
hunger … that kept me on the edge, that made my temper flare, hunger that made
hate leap out of my heart like the darts of a serpent\'s tongue, hunger that
created in me odd cravings." Wright no longer hungers for food. He
transitions his hunger of food and fear into that of knowledge. His grandmother
does not allow his; instead, places him in setting where people are
closed-minded. The church is compiled of people that limit his freedom. They,
too, have been brainwashed by their white superiors. The white community has
told the black community that they are good-for-nothings and should not dream of
becoming anything important in life. Richard\'s church community and family
express to him the same message.
In his struggle to conquer hunger, Wright is dehumanized in the process.
Wright lives in an alien world devoid of love and understanding. He is a young
boy when he experiences the racism of whites towards blacks for the first time.
His age makes it more difficult for Wright to not only understand the things
going on in his life, but also to accept them. At the age of six Wright becomes
a drunkard. "The point of life became for me
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Limbic system, Motivation, Neuropsychology, Food and drink, Hunger, Social justice, Black Boy, Richard Wright, Aqua Teen Hunger Force
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