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Black Boy

Black Boy


by Richard Wright

Black Boy Chapter 11 Summary

  • Richard arrives in Memphis. It may still be south of the Mason-Dixon line, but he can practically taste that sweet northern air.
  • Given Richard’s general bad luck, it’s not surprising that he somehow ends up in the bad part of town as soon as he gets off of the train. Looking for somewhere to stay, he sees a house with a ROOMS sign, but assumes it is a brothel and keeps looking. Eventually the lady in the house comes out, tells him it’s not a brothel after all, and even gives him a discount on a room.
  • Get ready to have your mind blown, because you’re about to see people actually being nice to Richard.
  • The landlady, Mrs. Moss, figures Richard out immediately. She is the nicest person he has ever met. Later we meet Bess, Mrs. Moss’s daughter, and she’s even nicer. So nice that it’s actually a little weird. So nice that it’s becoming obvious she has a bit of a crush on Richard.
  • Richard is more than a little weirded out since they haven’t even had a first date and she’s already going on about marriage and love. Still, it must be a nice change from people thinking he’s demon-possessed.
  • Actually, Richard is starting to think that maybe it’s Mrs. Moss and her daughter who are possessed, and we kinda agree with him. This is some freaky cult stuff.
  • He goes out looking for a job both because he needs one and just to get away from all the awkward. In a few hours, Richard snags a job as a dishwasher. Go Richard!
  • That night, Mrs. Moss sees him eating out of a can in his room alone like the antisocial kid that he is, and he makes Mrs. Moss cry because she realizes how awful his family must have been if he feels bad eating dinner with them.
  • When he and Bess are alone, she bats her eyelashes at him and combs his hair, which we suppose was part of the mating ritual of the day, and thinks Richard is lying when he says that he has no idea what she is doing. She doesn’t know Richard as well as we do, so she hasn’t figured out that he’s an oblivious dummy when it comes to interpersonal relationships.
  • You know where this is going, right? Well, it goes there. For a while. When Bess confesses that she loves Richard and asks if he loves her too, Richard backs off in horror. Bess cries and runs away, saying that she hates him.
  • Richard has no idea what is going on.
  • The next day, Richard gets his can of food and goes to work. On the way to work, Richard thinks he’s found a friend but in fact he’s just been conned into a bootlegging scheme.
  • This chapter really did not end up where we expected it was going to.

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