Black Boy by Richard Wright Essays

Alienation in Black Boy

This essay will talk about how Richard in Black Boy was living a life of alienation, created by his oppressors the white man and how the white man’s power was able to make the black community oppress itself.

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What does alienation mean? “Alienation (or “estrangement” means, for Marx, that man does not experience himself as the acting agent in his grasp of the world, but that the world (nature, others and he himself) remain alien to him. They stand above and against him as objects, even though they may be objects of his own creation. Alienation is essentially experiencing the world and oneself passively, receptively, as the subject separated from the object.” 1.(ch5, Marx’s Concept of Man, by Erich Fromm) Alienation for what I understand it to be, is that I as a human being, (subject), I’m living my life with out being able to dictate what I want to do with it. The oppressors of my world are the ones dictating what I’m supposed to be doing with it. This creates my alienation from my world; making me live a life of oppression. You basically become a slave to your world.

An example of how the black community is an oppressor to Richard is by the way that they ignore his questions about racial relations between the white men and blacks. This is a perfect example in how the oppressors have managed to oppress the black community, by making themselves be discouraged, and by killing any curiosity to try and overcome the oppression. Richard is discouraged by his own people, because they fear that in a sense, Richard could cause trouble for them if he where to understand what was going on. By doing this, the black community is killing Richard’s curiosity, and with out curiosity Richard would become a …

…es why.? The blacks are made to think that they should be oppressed, so in an unconscious level they maintain themselves in an oppressed life. They wont help themselves overcome their alienation. It’s thanks to Richard’s self-motivation, his hunger, that he can surpass his alienation.

A way to end alienation is to let go of are judgmental thinking. If we let everybody else be themselves, then everybody will let us be ourselves. If we all live in a unity then we cannotalienate one another. What follows is a quote from Black Boy that explains the way I feel about the problem of alienation. “My life as a Negro in America had led me to feel . . . that the problem of human unity was more important than bread, more important than physical living itself; for I felt that without a common bond uniting men . . . there could be no living worthy of being called human.”


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