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Themes

Life is a classroom, or at least that’s what Black Boy wants us to think. Even though people brand him as an "intellectual," Richard actually has very little formal training. The lessons he picks up are from the streets, at home, at his jobs, and in church. Yet, somehow, he ends up seeming even smarter than college graduates. And it doesn’t look like Richard is planning to stop learning any time soon.

Questions About Education

  1. Why do the white people around Richard say that learning is dangerous? Is it dangerous for Richard? How or how not? Is it dangerous for them? How or how not?
  2. Wright becomes an award-winning author with only a few ears of formal schooling under his belt. What in his background seemed to lead to his success (if anything)? What does he suggest was most important to forming his writing style?
  3. Who talks most about intellectuals in Black Boy? What do they seem to mean by "intellectual"? What does Richard mean? Is Richard an intellectual by his own definition?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Formal education is not important in Black Boy. What you teach yourself matters more.

Richard gains many different kinds of knowledge throughout the book, and all are important to be a well-educated person.

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