Black Boy Questions
Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
- Black Boy is divided into two parts, and the original edition only included the first part. How would leaving out the second part change Wright’s story? Why do you think the book was originally published without the second part?
- Wright originally entitled his book American Hunger. Why do you think Wright chose that title? How does it change the story? Why do you think his editor changed the title? Which is a better fit for the story?
- Is Black Boy an autobiography, a novel, or something else? If it is something else, what is it?
- There are almost no women in Black Boy. Would the story change if there were more women?
- Richard is the only fully developed character in Black Boy. Why might that be? What would the stories of the other characters (like Ella or Richard’s Grandma) look like, if the characters could tell their tales?
- Would you say that the book is basically optimistic or pessimistic? Does it offer hope for the future of race relations in the US?
- Why do you think the book found such wide appeal? Today, many books with black central characters are marketed specifically to black audiences. Has that changed since 1945, or is the book designed to be universal?
- How much control does Wright appear to have over his path? Is he the master of his own fate, or is he controlled by outside forces?