Week 4 Readings and Assignments
1. Read Richard Wright’s powerful Black Boy: Part one.
This book was published in 1945 and became an instant best-seller.
I have never read a more powerful book about race in America than this one. It is an incredible piece of writing and once you have read it, you will never forget it.
Wright became a permanent ex-patriot eventually and left this country for good.
2. Discussion Board — Who is dreaming now and what would it take to fulfill it?
a. Compare Richard’s experience with that of Ragged Dick or with that of Alexandra. What does this book say about the American Dream? Is it viable? Why or why not?
b. What would Richard's dream be if he could express it? How about the dreams of his father, his grandmother, or his mother? Why can't Richard's family be supportive of him? What accounts for this dysfunction?
c. Richard seems not to fit in either the black world or the white. Why do you think this is? How does he see himself? What would be a perfect world for this young writer, if he could create it?
d. What is the picture we see of life in the South after the catastrophe of the Civil War and its unfinished Reconstruction? How does this culture make it impossible for persons of color to achieve? Why are the white people in the South so afraid of those who are not white? What hinders progress toward equality and integration in this time and place?
e. Richard Wright presents us with a fractured and painful world that is awful to experience, even vicariously in print. How does this book belong in a course about the American Dream when it is the absolute American Nightmare?
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