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RACISM AND OPPRESSION IN BLACK AMERICAN LITERATURE: A STUDY OF RICHARD WRIGHT’S NATIVE SON AND BLACK BOY

RACISM AND OPPRESSION IN BLACK AMERICAN LITERATURE: A STUDY OF RICHARD WRIGHT’S NATIVE SON AND BLACK BOY

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RACISM AND OPPRESSION IN BLACK AMERICAN LITERATURE: A STUDY OF RICHARD WRIGHT’S NATIVE SON AND BLACK BOY

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

The novel black boy and native son reflects the racism and oppression of the black people at every place. Even women were not spared from this suffering. As a growing child Richard faced many problems of hunger, family and his identification and at last he recognized his potential and understands the knowledge which he was searching from childhood. He came across many difficulties and faced boldly instead running from it. Being a black is like a punishment for the blacks. Richard Wright, a famous African American writer presents the sufferings and struggle of African American people in his novels. He explores the subject of racism and oppression in his works. As it is true that the condition of African American people was very pathetic in. This paper tries to explore the racism and oppression of black American people, who suffered discrimination and brutality by the whites. They were oppressed by the whites, being an African American Richard himself faced many problems while growing up.

Racism in literary studies is defined by Wikipedia as the belief the of genetic factors which constitute race, are the primary determinants of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produces an inherent superiority of a particular race. Racism effects are called racial discrimination. Although the term racism usually denotes race based on prejudice, violence, dislike, discrimination or oppression. Racism is also defined simply as a reflection of the economic system and its cultural, ethnic and political ways. The concept of racism is derived from the word race and it is believed that one racial or ethnic group is inferior to another and the unequal treatment is therefore justified.

According to Charles V. Hamilton and Kwame Ture they defined racism as

“A prediction of decision and policies on consideration of race for the purpose of subordinating a racial group and maintaining control over that group”.

On the other hand, oppression is defined by the encyclopedia as torture or degrading treatment and the use of threat or violence. It is also the exercise of power/authority in a burden, cruel or unjust manner. Oppression is also defined by Wikipedia as an act or instance of oppressing the state of being oppressed and the feeling of being heavily burdened; mentally or physically by troubles adverse conditions and anxiety.

It is this experience of Black Slaves that Richard Wright tries to capture in BlackBoy (1945). In the text, Wright recalls the plight of the Africans that were sold into slavery between the early 1700’s and 1860’s through the convenience of their own fellow Africans. They were transplanted to American, Canada, the Caribbean Island and other parts of the world. The Africans taken into America were now referred to as “Black Americans” while those on the Caribbean Island are called “Afro Caribbean” but they all have a common roots and common problem- Racial Discrimination. The Africans faced a great ordeal trying to survive hardship on their journey across the Atlantic Ocean on arrival to America; they were conscripted into force labour, maltreated, abused and demoralized on the cotton fields and plantation where they were put to work as slaves. As a result of this hardship deprivation and degradation, the blacks began expressing themselves through Negro spirituals which marked the beginning of the artistic expressions of the emotion. They told stories of unpleasant experience of slavery and oppression through pamphlet and short stories, which formed the basic of Black writings and which were later referred to as “Slave Narrative” or “secret text” because they were written without the knowledge of the slave owners. This inhuman trade led to the transportation of Africans to American to work as slave on the plantation where they experienced unimaginable oppression from the white owner. Many youth are ignorant of this fact and see American as a peaceful place and a bed of roses.

The experiences of the blacks recounted by Richard Wright in BlackBoy will therefore by analysed to expose the themes of racism and oppression as aspect of the American society. Richard worked at many places and experienced many events which made him to acquire knowledge of solving difficulties. The novel is about the struggle of an individual to survive in the atmosphere of oppressors and cope up with the environment. Richard was able to break away the racial system of the society at that time of segregation of blacks. Through his life long struggle with racism and oppression in the society he discovers his potential, self-worth and as a writer.

 

STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Richard Wright emerged as a major Black intellectual warrior who was driven by the quest to defend Black humanity against the cultural domination of white supremacist ideas and practices. Around this time, Wright’s interest in race relations and radical thought led him to join the Communist party. Within the Communist ranks, he found, for the first time, a formidable peer group sharing a common goal of promoting racial and social equality. For a brief period, Wright’s sense of loneliness subsided. Communism appeared to offer an alternative that not only could quell his own inner conflict, but also the threat of poverty and racism which was confronting the disinherited people of all nations. He changed the landscape of possibility for African American writers.

Without the freedom to write about life as they saw it, restricted by the concepts of good and evil that black people represented to the majority culture, it is no wonder that their expression lacked the imagination and richness of the folk expressions of the day. The shadow of white racism hung over early black novelists. Many years would pass before it would be lifted, allowing glimpses of reality to revise the distorted black image of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Though people around the world are alert about the racial discrimination and great leaders have fought against it, still problems arise due to racial discrimination. Even in the current era racial discrimination cannot be uprooted completely.

CHAPTER THREE 

THEMATIC ANALYSIS OF NATIVE SON BY RICHARD WRIGHT

CHAPTER FOUR

THEMATIC ANALYSIS OF NATIVE SON BY RICHARD WRIGHT

 

 

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