The Expansion on a View of Life
Desire is a strong word to express a wish for, that everyone around the world has. Richard Wright in Black Boy has many desires to achieve. Wright tells of his life from a young boy in the prejudice south to an adult in the north. In Black Boy, Richards expression of desire is a need for knowledge, independence, and understanding.
Knowledge is something that most, if not all, people want. Richard's one of them. His first need for knowledge was when he moved in with his grandmother. Living with his grandmother he met a schoolteacher called Ella. One morning he came upon Ella reading a book and he begged to her, Ella, I begged, please tell me what you are reading. Your grandmother wouldnt like it if I talked to you about novels, she told me(p. 38). He then starts to seek around for one of Ellas novels so he can read them. He shows courage and defiance for the sake of knowledge. When Richard starts school Granny refuses to pay for his textbooks, thinking that they were worldly. Richard goes against his grandmother's wishes and got a job selling newspapers. Now, at last, I could have my reading in the home, could hove it there with the approval of Granny. She had already given me permission to sell papers (p. 128). He tried to sell the newspapers, but found out that they were of Ku Klux Klan origin and stopped. Although he didnt make enough money, he still had the nerve to ask his Granny to let him.
Independence was won in American a long time ago. Still, Richard needs for a different independence. Independence from authority was one of them. An example of this was with his Uncle Tom. Now, Uncle Tom, what do you want with me? I asked him. You need
to be taught a lesson in how to live with people, he said. If I do need one, your not going to give it to me, I said.(159). Even though Uncle Tom is his elder, Richard refuses to put up with him. Another example of this independence from authority was with his Aunt Addie. Like with his uncle, he refuses to be beaten, or disciplined in any way. The moment Aunt Addie came into the houseI reached home before she didshe called me into the kitchen. When I entered, I saw she was holding another switch. My muscles tightened. Youre not going to beat me again! I told her.(107). Again he stands by his beliefs and refuses authority for the sake of being independent.
Understanding was another thing that Richard wanted. The first time he hungered for understanding was in the very early stages of his life. a black boy had been severely beaten by a white man, I felt that the white man had had a right to beat the black boy, for I naively assumed that the white man must have been the black boys father (p. 23). Richard didnt fully understand all the racial issues in the south when he was a boy, and didnt start to comprehend them until later in life.
Many things in Richard Wrights Black Boy, such as knowledge, independence and understanding, represented desire. The way how Richard wanted to read books, standing up to his Aunt Addie, and the realization of cruelty when he became older. But to feel that there were feelings that denied me, that the very breath of life itself was beyond my reach, that more than anything else was hurt, wounded me. I had a new hunger(p. 250). People desire for different and new things, and much like Richard their wants were always changing.