Childhood is a time of sunny days. Sweet breezes blow friendly cloud shapes across the deep blue sky. The days are never-ending-joya black canvas to paint with beautiful memories – – unless your childhood was Richard Wright’s. His youth was a cold bleak existence, carved with hatred and overlaid with hunger. There seemed to be little hope for one born to such a lot. For it was not to the caring bosom of his family that Richard could turn. And the hard, unfeeling eyes of the world were turned away from him. It was a great feat that could struggle through life’s battles with his conscience unscathed. It was his experience that provided the color which enhanced the sketch of his personality he was given at birth.
Richard’s family despaired of him. They believed him to only be on the wide path go hell as was evidence by the family confrontations Richard constantly found himself in. There was the time Aunt Addie punished an innocent Richard in school, and the fight raged on even once they were home. After pulling a knife on her and being thrown to the floor, eternal hate was born between the two relatives. He believed him to be devilish and would have nothing to do with him while Richard regarded her with untarnished enmity. He also fought with Uncle Tom. Richard pulled razor blades on Uncle because he was gong to be beaten for an unknown reason. This event constructed an impenetrable wall between the two that was never to come down. It was here Richard learned not to trust. For who would offer kindness towards him if family members did not. And finally, Richard fought with Granny over working on the Sabbath . She did not understand what he needed, reasoned Richard. That boy is a hopeless case, felt Granny. They completely misunderstood one another, and each one’s pride was too great to do anything about the damaged relationship. So between Aunt Addie, Uncle Tom, and Granny, Richard existed in a place of hard and in indifferent stares which would cause him to search for brighter colors elsewhere.
He first turned to the streets. He found no solace there but rather a malice between races that surpassed the hostility at home. He saw this when he was he was bitten by the brickyard owner’s dog. The man cared nothing for Richard and didn’t care if he lived or died because all blacks were trash in the white man’s eyes. The blacks returned this sentiment, viewing him as horrible slave master. Then Richard felt racial violence again when several white men smashed an empty whiskey bottle on his forehead because Richard forgot to say “Sir”. These men where no better than Richard (they were probably worse) and yet they felt they had the right to cause bodily injury. Richard squared off against racial hatred once more at the optical company when Pease and Reynolds threatened to kill him if he didn’t leave, for apparently reason other than they felt he was too smart for his own good. They were cowards who picked on blacks as bully does on one smaller than him. They were prepared to kill Richard for something as superfluous as neglecting to preface the word “Please” with the word “Mister”. Richard left the optical company as soon realized he had to leave the South.
Before he could head North, though, there was a problem with money. It would not be incorrect to say that some blacks in the South compromised some of the values for dollar bills. Richard did too, but not without an extremely guilty conscience that weighed him down for many months. He started bootlegging to white prostitutes foe extra cash. It was the first act of crime. He committed it out of desperation, but one thing led to another, and this was only the beginning.. the Grand Movie House Scam was where he earned the most money and the nervous stomach. He feared a life in the South More. It was wrong, he knew, but it was essential, he thought. Finally, Richard completed his life of crime by stealing his neighbor’s gun and selling it at a pawn shop and by taking large cans of fruit preserves to sell to restaurants. These were minor crimes but nevertheless provided difficult to perform. They were the last few feet of a very long trail and seemed to be worth it, or were they? It took Richard many months to recover from the pain he learned accompanies crime, which the reader that somewhere in life, Richard acquired a conscience that could distinguish between right and wrong.
So perhaps it was hereditary, or maybe it came from the books he read, but more likely it was his experiences that provided that beautifully varied used to shape Richard’s personality. And somehow, though these events, Richard Wright created a masterpiece we gaze in wonder at today.