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Black Boy

Autobiography by Richard Wright, published in 1945, vividly describes his often harsh, hardscrabble boyhood and youth in rural Mississippi and in Memphis, Tenn. When the work was first published, many white critics viewed Black Boy primarily as an attack on racist Southern white society. In 1960s the work came to be understood as the story of Wright's coming of age and development as a writer.

Richard Wright grew up in the woods of Mississippi amid poverty, hunger, fear, and hatred. He lied, stole, and raged at those around him; at six he was a "drunkard," hanging about in taverns. Surly, brutal, cold, suspicious, and self-pitying, he was surrounded on one side by whites who were either indifferent to him, pitying, or cruel, and on the other by blacks who resented anyone trying to rise above the common lot.

Black Boy is Richard Wright's powerful account of his journey from innocence to experience in the Jim Crow South. It is at once an unashamed confession and a profound indictment—a poignant and disturbing record of social injustice and human suffering.

Reading Level 9.  
Interest Level 9-12.  
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