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Themes

Literature is the Swiss Army tool of life. It can be used as a weapon, or as food, or drink, or even as eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. It seems like Black Boy thinks literature can do pretty much everything as well as the quote-unquote real world. No wonder Richard loves it. His real world is the worst, but he can ignore all that when he’s nose deep into some serious writing. As he figures out by the end of the book, writing might be the magic wand that can help him change the world.

Questions About Literature and Writing

  1. Why do you think Richard is so into writing, despite everyone else around him? Is Richard special?
  2. Why does everyone else have a problem with Richard’s reading? Does anyone encourage Richard’s habit?
  3. What words does Richard use when he talks about books and writing? Does he see the process as wholly positive, or are there negative aspects to it, also?
  4. How does Richard learn how to write? What difficulties does he encounter as he learns?

Chew on This

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

Words have power in Black Boy. They’re the only way for Richard to gain any control over his life.

In Black Boy’sSouth, reading and writing are actually detrimental. Not only do they not help you get anywhere in life, they also just make everyone think you are weird.

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