The Library Card Essay Research Paper The

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The Library Card Essay, Research Paper ?The Library Card,? by Richard Wright is a strong essay on how books can affect and influence readers. Richard Wright writes that his first experience of the real world is accomplished through novels. He read an article criticizing H.L. Mencken and it tempted him to read some of his books. The article labeled Mencken as ?a fool.? Wright wanted to know what this man had done to cause such hatred against him. ?I wondered what on earth this Mencken had done to call down upon him the scorn of the South. The only people I had ever heard denounced in the South were Negroes, and this man was not a Negro,? (pg.319) Wright writes that tells us that the South was filled with racism and hatred among the whites and blacks. Mencken must have had

ideas that the South did not like. Since Wright had never been exposed to such hatred between the whites and blacks, he did not know what exactly was going on in the world around him. Wright wished to dig in deeper into this issue and it motivated him to borrow a library card from a white man. Since he ?knew that Negroes were not allowed to patronize its shelves any more than they were the parks and playgrounds of the city,? (pg.319) he had asked an Irish Catholic that was hated by the white Southerners. ?Richard, don?t mention this to the other white men,? (pg.321) the Irish Catholic said to Wright, which indicates that he is not a typical white southerner who is against the blacks. If there is anyone who is in favor of the blacks, they are automatically disliked by the other

whites. The Irish Catholic has absolutely nothing again Richard taking out books to read. Other people will be suspicious and they think it is wrong for black people to read. Richard was forced to forge a note to the librarian saying that the Irish wanted to take out books by Mencken. He wrote, ?Dear Madam: Will you please let this nigger boy have some books by H.L. Mencken?? (pg.321) He used the words ?nigger boy? to make the librarian feel that he could not possibly be the one who wrote the note. The word ?nigger? was frequently used in the past, and it is still used today. A nigger is a black person, but it is used to insult them. The librarian asked many questions to Richard, to make sure that he wasn?t the one using the books. ?You?re not using these books, are you?? she

asked pointedly. There is a strict rule in lending books to black people. The whites do not want to expand black people?s knowledge, since they just want them to be slaves. Back then, black people could hardly read or write and they were not offered the education to learn so. Once Richard took out the books, he headed back to the Irish Catholic and told him that the librarian might telephone him. It is to make sure that the books were for him and not for Richard. If Richard gets caught taking out the books and reading it for himself, he will get in big trouble for it. Richard first book was ?A Book of Prefaces,? which was written by Mencken. He was surprised on how Mencken fought with words in the book, and he was shocked with his style. When he couldn?t understand some words, he

had to use a dictionary to help him out. After he read the book, he felt that he had experienced something new, ?I hungered for books, new ways of looking and seeing. It was not a matter of believing or disbelieving what I read, but of feeling something new, of being affected by something that made the look of the world different.? (pg.323) Books had made him view the world differently and they opened his eyes. Every time he read a book, he could not put it down. The mood of it lingered, coloring everything he saw, heard, did. He identified himself with the books he read, and it made him vaguely guilty. ?Would I, filled with bookish notions, act in a manner that would make the whites dislike me?? he questioned himself and it made him feel isolated from the world around him. Every