Black Boy. In the South, whites wanted power over the blacks, and the only form it came in was a word. By the first amendment the whites had power to use words, as did the journalist against the southern whites. Richard Wright grows up learning about the south and how it ruins others, and how it stabs him in the back by words. Richard at the age of four learns that words have an undeniable power behind and in front of them.
Race, social class, and ethnicity play a huge role in this novel. After Richard s dad leaves the family, Richard, the mother, and brother, now have to work more to make money, and have to starve at some moments, they have to suffer in the lower social class. Whites expect gratitude and polite measures from the blacks at all times. The whites are the supremacy of the land and should not and could not be fooled. Richard was working for a clothing store, where blacks were undersold. The whites always want to be referred to Sir or Mam.
The whites would even hit Richard because they have the power to do so for this. The word "sir' if said has the power to put down a black, and if not said, it had the power to kill. The whites have an unbalanced situation for the blacks. Blacks have a life of pressure, no choice to do or not to do. In chapter Twelve, the whites use words of pressure, to persuade Richard and another boy named Harrison to fight themselves. Both have a feeling toward another that one is going to crumble before the whites.
Harrison is the one; he crumbles for five dollars. He is selling himself out to the whites. Harrison gives in to accepting he is a lower social class, and this does not help ease the tension of the racist barriers. Richard learns that words: if taken literally can separate people (father); that simple words have a unbalanced situation for blacks (car ride with whites); the words of used correctly, leads to life, and is used for pressure and verbal agreements, leads to pain.
On the way north on the train, Richard realizes that he knows the south, and he is just beginning to learn it. He figures out you have to see the whole picture, then the inside first. He also knows he is not leaving it all behind. The emotions, thoughts, and words (scars) are still going wherever he does.