The Influences On Richard Wright In Black

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The Influences On Richard Wright In Black Boy Essay, Research Paper In the book Black Boy, Richard s family and the white people surrounding him as a child in the South significantly influence the person that he grows up to be. Family members or co-workers in some way influence almost every important decision that Richard makes as a young adult. Although many people influence Richard, the three people that most affect his decisions, opinions, and beliefs, and have the overall greatest impact on him are his mother, grandmother, and his co-workers at the optical company. His mother influences him in many ways, the most important being that she teaches him to stand up for himself and for what he believes. She teaches him this at a very young age. As a child, she sends him to get

something from the grocery store. On the way to the store neighborhood children beat him and take his money. When he comes home his mother merely gives him more money and sends him back out into the street. The children beat him twice. He comes home after the second beating thinking that he will be safe inside the house with his mother. However, his mother sends him right back out with a stick, and tells him to defend himself with it. His mother does not take any time to comfort him before sending him back out. She only tells him I m going to teach you this night to stand up and fight for yourself. (19) This confuses Richard because before this she never tells him to fight. He goes out, fights back against the children, and gets to the store with his money. His mother also tells

him that there is a difference between being beaten and being whipped. This comes up after an incident with a white man beating a black boy. Richard naively assumes that the man is the boy s father, which would justify the abuse. She tells him that white men do not beat black boys; they whip them, and that the man was not the boy s father. Being beaten, he associates with punishment for doing something wrong. While being whipped, is when someone hits another person for amusement. She does not go into detail on how it is different, only saying that he is too young to understand. These teachings influence him later in life because he does not let anyone hit him, unless his mother is punishing him for something. He almost never lets anyone besides his mother hit him. This is both

bad and good for Richard. It is bad in that it sometimes gets him in trouble with white people while he is in the South. He does not show them the level of respect that white people ordinarily expect. Nevertheless, it is also good for him because he has a lot more respect for himself than many of the other black people that he meets, for instance Shorty. Granny is the other adult that plays a large role in Richard s development and throughout his early life. She and Richard rarely see eye to eye on things. He never thinks of her as a parent, although with his mother constantly sick she plays a large role in raising him and has very much control over his life. He does not do what she says just because she says it and often asks for a reason. Granny sees this as questioning her

authority, which is disrespectful. He also never lets her beat him. This is very different from his relationship with his mother. He rarely questions his mother, and accepts it when she beats him. Both of these things end up causing a lot of pain and suffering for Richard. Since Granny is very religious and has very strong faith in God, and Richard does not, many fights occur between them. They are both extremely stubborn and set in their beliefs. Although Richard does not really have any religious beliefs, he is just as set in what he thinks as Granny is in her religion. Granny is unable to understand this, and sees Richard as just being stubborn and unfaithful. Granny often does not let Richard do things that his friends are doing because of her beliefs. She also frequently