Study Guide

Black Boy Chapter 6

By Richard Wright

Chapter 6

  • Richard finally is able to get a job. Hooray! Just what every kid wants, right after a PS3 and an iPhone.
  • He starts with a white family who wants a black boy to do chores. The lady asks Richard if he steals, and Richard laughs in her face because, duh if he did steal, he wouldn’t tell her. The lady doesn’t think it’s so funny, though, so Richard has really gotten off on the wrong foot.
  • This is Richard’s first time hanging around with white people, and he’s a little worried that they’ll just up and lynch him one day.
  • As it turns out, he doesn’t have to worry about that. But he does have to worry about the nasty, moldy food that they put out for him, and about the insane fact that they get offended when he doesn’t eat it.
  • After the gross breakfast fiasco, the woman asks him why he is still going to school. When he says because he wants to be a writer, it is her turn to laugh in his face. Richard, since he is proud and pigheaded, leaves the job in a huff.
  • The next day he finds another job (apparently there’s no recession going on), and the lady can’t believe that he doesn’t know how to milk a cow. Apparently all black people can milk a cow. You know, just like white people can’t dance, and Asian people rock at math? In other words, this lady is pretty racist.
  • Well, Richard gets over that when he realizes that they have tons of food at their house and that they might be able to sneak some of the food into his stomach.
  • Or at least, Richard is excited until the next day, when the family curses each other out while acting like strangers. Richard has never seen a family like this and he is nervous the whole day. This is actually a little surprising, since his family chases each other around with knives and whips, but whatevs.
  • Because of his new, nerve-wracking job, Richard's grades are falling. But at least he has money and can eat.
  • As his mom recovers, she starts to attend a Methodist Church. Richard only goes to hang out with his friends, but he stays to marvel at the sheer number of black people. He’s never seen so many all in one place.
  • After a while, his friends start pestering him to join. On the night of a revival, the pastor uses the old, "Do you want to make your mom sad?" play to manipulate Richard into being baptized. He doesn’t feel any different, but everyone else is satisfied.
  • The family needs money to pay rent again, so Uncle Tom and his family move in. Uncle Tom gets on Richard's nerves because he tries to tell him what is wrong with his life, and Richard gets on Uncle Tom’s nerves because he ignores him. It’s made in heaven.
  • One day Uncle Tom asks Richard for the time. Richard tells him, but Uncle Tom flips out anyway. Like, he goes totally crazy. This scene is insane. You should check it out, because we seriously can’t understand what’s going on to make him so angry.
  • Also, how is it possible that every single person Richard knows is so awful?
  • Uncle Tom decides to beat Richard. What he doesn’t know is that Richard decided a long time ago that he wasn’t going to get beaten anymore. Tom is surprised when Richard threatens to cut him with razor blades.
  • We, however, are not surprised.
  • The scene ends with Uncle Tom emotionally broken because he has just lost in a fight to a pre-teen.