Monday, December 19, 2011


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Significance of Opening Scene The coming of age of Richard is shown through

his family’s move to Memphis. Going into this new city introduced him to

gangs, drunks, bars, school, and hunger. The significance of the first scene is

that it shows the early childhood of Richard and how he had to learn the hard way

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about a lot of things. One of the things that would have the biggest impact

on him, and continue to for the rest of his life, was when his father left

their family. It left so many questions marks in his life at such a young age,

that it left an imprint on him forever. Living in the environment he did, Richard

learned about things that most learn about much later in their lives.

Significance of Closing Scene The point of the closing scene of Part 1 is to

show that Richard was finally on his way to his dream of moving to Chicago.

He worked hard for money to provide his family with for almost his entire life,

and finally it was his turn to do something with his life. It was something

he wanted to do all his life, but it was almost as if he had to go, to escape

the terror of the south which he survived in up until this point.

Plot Summary Richard, his brother, his mother, and his father started life

in a small house in the country, but soon move to Memphis. Richard’s father

leaves their family for another woman, so Richard’s mother has to go to work and

soon Richard starts going to saloons and bars to spend his days. His mother

sees the bad direction he is taking, so she moves the family to her mother’s

house. But soon his mother moves them to Arkansas with their Aunt Maggie. The

illness of Richard’s mother forces them to move back to their grandmother’s

house. His brother ends up on a train with Aunt Maggie to live with her, and

Richard has to live with his Uncle Clark and Aunt Jodi. He hates his life their so

moves back in with his grandmother. Richard grows up having to work constantly

just to make a few bucks to help support his family; and when he can, he

moves back to Memphis. After working at an optical company for some time, he can

finally send for his mother, Aunt Maggie, and his brother. Richard and his Aunt

Maggie planned to move to Chicago and to send for his mother and brother soon


Setting The setting of the novel is in the early 100s in the deep south of

America. Richard and his family lives everywhere from Arkansas to Memphis.

They had to deal with the racial issues that existed in the south during that

time in their struggle to survive.


Quotation #1 And did not all fathers, like my father, have the right to

beat their children? A paternal right was the only right, to my understanding,

that a man had to beat his child. But when my mother told me that the ‘white’

man was not the father of the ‘black’ boy, was no kin to him at all, I was

puzzled (Wright -4).

Significance #1 The importance of this quote is that is shows how Richard

always had the mind frame that he did throughout life, why should the white man

be better than me? This thought process began when he was young and developed

strongly as he grew older. His inability to accept that his race was

considered subservient to white people cost him, as he could never hold a job or make

the money he needed. While other blacks accepted this fate, he refused to,

constantly fighting back.

Quotation # ‘A colored man’s all right up north.’ Justifying flight.

‘They say a white man hit a colored man up north and that colored man hit

that white man, knocked him cold, and nobody did a damn thing!’ Urgent wish

to believe in flight.

‘Man for man up there.’ Begging to believe in justice (Wright 80).

Significance # As Richard and his friends grew up in the southern

environment, they could only long for the place they’d dreamed of living all their

lives- the north. This quote shows the longing and desperation of these boys to

get out of this place where they were born, and begin living up north. Their

common sense told them that all of what they were saying wasn’t true, but it was

their hopes and dreams that were speaking when they talked of the equality

between blacks and whites.

Quotation # During our talk I made a hypothetical statement that summed up

my attitude toward God and the suffering in the world, a statement that

stemmed from my knowledge of life as I had lived, seen, felt, and suffered it in

terms of dread, fear, hunger, terror, and loneliness (Wright 115).

Significance # The south has been, and probably will always be, the most

religious part of America. People live and die by their religion, and it is a

way of life for nearly everyone who lives in it. Richard, however, cannot

understand why God is so worshipped when he is the one who is inflicting this cruel

life on him. It doesn’t make sense to Richard why everyone constantly prays to

him, when they know their lives will only be filled with more suffering,

despite their prayers. This belief only outcasts Richard further away from

society, because not worshipping God is almost a criminal offense in the south.


Richard Wright- Richard is a boy who grew up in the south, learning to

deal with the racism and hate that flourished during that time period. Living in

a big city and then living in a small town developed his perspective in life,

and made him want to fight back against the racism. He acted differently than

the other blacks who learned to be subservient to the whites. Words to

describe him would be curious, different, and rebellious.

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