Society and Class Theme
Peer pressure. In Black Boy—just like middle school—it’s what makes the world go round. It can make you join a church, make you steal, even make you fight when you don’t even want to. In Black Boy, society is practically a personified enemy that steals your dreams and crushes your spirit. Richard’s autobiography is the story of his fight for the independence of his mind and soul. It’s a brutal journey—but it’s worth it in the end. Right?
Questions About Society and Class
- What is Richard expected to do in order to get along with people? Does he ever succeed in fitting in with other people’s rules?
- How does Black Boy show people pressuring Richard to fit into his little piece of society? Does he ever learn the rules to acting black?
- Different groups try to force Richard to be part of them and play by their rules, but Richard rejects them all. How does he manage to retain his individuality? How might anyone maintain his or her identity in the face of pressure to conform?
Chew on This
Richard believes that it’s better to be alone than to give into society’s unreasonable demands.
Even if he tries, Richard can never totally reject society’s rules.