Reading Schedule for Black Boy by Richard Wright
AP Literature & Composition
Mrs. Alana Haughaboo
Read to page 55. In your journal, describe Richard’s relationships with adults.
Read 55-101. How are the anti-Semitic rhymes and songs ironic? Why do you think Richard always tenses up at school? On pages 79-82, Richard Wright follows each bit of dialogue with a description of the delivery or a feeling associated with the expression. What do you think about this?
Read Chapters 4 & 5. In chapter 4, Richard finds himself in another peculiar classroom situation, but this one carries over into his home life. Is Richard really that big of a pest or do you think the adults have unrealistic expectations?
Read Chapters 6, 7, and 8 “‘You’ll never be a writer,’ she said […] Perhaps she was right; perhaps I would never be a writer; but I did not want her to say so.” (Wright 147). Has anyone ever done this to you before? What was your reaction? Discuss The Voodoo of Hell’s Half-Acre. Also explore his feelings connected with school. What is it that makes him have such negative feelings about the place?
Read Chapters 9-11 “‘You act around white people as if you didn’t know they were white. And they see it.’” (Wright 184) Why is this a problem in his new job? When it was published in 1945, Black Boy was read primarily as an attack on the violence and oppression of the Jim Crow South; during the 1960s, critics began to focus on the sensibility of the narrator - how his experiences shaped him, how he found his voice and satisfied his yearning for expression. Which view of the novel feels most on target to you?
Finish Part One (Chapters 12-14) Compare the male and female characters as they are presented in Black Boy. To what extent is Richard rebelling against the powerful role of women in African-American families? Do you think Wright is a misogynist, as some critics have written? Are there any men in the book to whom Richard feels close or to whom he turns for guidance or mentoring? Several years before he died, Wright wrote, "I declare unabashedly that I like and even cherish the state of abandonment and aloneness...it seems the natural, inevitable condition of man, and I welcome it..." Discuss this statement in the light of Black Boy.
Read Chapters 15 & 16. List some of Richard’s observations of his new home. How does he feel about it?
Finish the book. Why was Richard so attracted to the Communist Party? Why did the relationship not last?
Austin High School teacher