Black Boy

Hunger in Black Boy College

In Richard Wright’s autobiographical novel Black Boy, the narrator frequently speaks about his severe physical hunger and the emptiness it brings him. While his physical hunger shapes his actions as a child, the gravity of the emotional and cultural hunger that Richard suffers from later in life overpowers these primitive urges. Throughout his story, Richard expresses his hardships with physical, mental, and societal hunger, the different reactions each evokes in him, and the ways in which he battles them. Fulfilling his physical malnourishment is what keeps him alive, but his efforts to cure his mental hunger are what keep the reader feeling Richard’s passion. This dichotomy exists throughout the novel, but Richard reacts to these hungers in different ways, and his different responses to physical hunger versus mental hunger shows his growth throughout the novel.

Part One of Black Boy follows Richard from his early childhood through his young adult life. It traces his family’s personal and financial ups and downs, and tracks his journey of employment, learning, and societal understanding. In the beginning of the book, Richard is still a child, and primarily acts to satisfy his primitive needs—mainly, physical satiation. There...

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