December 7, 2012
Black Boy Essay: 1st draft
Richard Wright’s Hunger Richard, throughout his life is always hungry, literally for food and metaphorically for knowledge, love, affection and acceptance. By facing obstacles and overcoming them, he does not fulfill his hunger but tames it, and reaches his own transcendence. He struggled with his biological and physiological needs when he was younger and when he grew older he longed to fulfill his cognitive needs more. By the end of his life he has learned the attitude of his hunger, has grown and learned from it, and reached a point of satisfaction with himself, and reaches this transcendence by fulfilling his cognitive needs through reading and writing.
When Richard was young he was hungry for his biological and physiological needs, his literal hunger. As Richard was growing up he struggled with poverty resulting in his literal hunger, “Hunger stole upon me so slowly that at first I was not aware of what hunger really meant” “this new hunger baffled me, scared me, made me angry and insistent” (14). Richard’s hunger slowly built up on him and he began to yearn for food, and it scared him when he could not get it. The fact that he couldn’t get food made him angry. His mom bounced from job to job, just getting his family by and once worked in a white person’s kitchen, bringing along with her, Richard and his brother. Reflecting back on this time Richard thinks, “Watching the white people eat would make my empty stomach churn and I would grow vaguely angry. Why could I not eat when I was hungry?” (19) Richard became angrier as he continued to be denied food. The factor of race also became involved, even though Richard did not quite understand the difference and split between whites and blacks yet. However, his hunger became even stronger when even worse times fell on his family, “My mother fell ill and the problem of food became and acute, daily agony. Hunger was with us always” (27-28). Richard almost reached starvation when there no longer was an income. Hunger was a part of Richard, molded into him and would stay with him for most of his life.
As Richard matured, he hungered more to fulfill his cognitive needs, and he did so by reading. As Richard longed for more knowledge on life he became very self-reflective, “I grew silent, wondering about the life around me. It would have been impossible for me to have told anyone what I derived from these novels, for it was nothing less than a sense of life itself” (250). He began to question his very life, and why he was living it the way he was. This time in his life also reflected on his belonging needs because he didn’t have anyone he could have shared his thoughts with. He began to understand life more through reading, however the answers he found he didn’t always like, “In buoying me up, reading also cast me down, made me see what was possible what I had missed. My tension returned, new, terrible, bitter, surging, almost too great to be contained. I no longer felt that the world about me was hostile, killing; I knew it” (251). Reading began to fulfill his cognitive needs of knowledge. Richard became more confident of what he knew about life. However, as Richard became more and more confident his curiosity continued to grow, “I was slowly beginning to comprehend the meaning of my own environment; a sense of direction was beginning to emerge from the conditions of my life. I began to feel something more powerful than I could express. My speech and manner changed. My cynicism slid from me. I grew open and questioning. I wanted to know” (301). So even though Richard’s cognitive needs were starting to be met, he would always be hungry for more knowledge.
Richard eventually tames his hunger and reaches his own transcendence. He begins to understand the life he has lived as a black, how others have lived lives as blacks, and how future blacks will live their lives, “I