Study Guide

Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison Literature and Writing

By Shaka Senghor

Literature and Writing

The book is called Writing My Wrongs—you'd better believe writing and literature is an important theme.

Literature and writing have a crucial role to play in turning Shaka's life around. Reading gives him a sense of purpose and dignity, and a desire to live up to the example set by great men and women of Black history.

And writing does all sorts of things for him. Writing in his journal is what lets him see how much he needs to change, and actually start making that change inside himself. Writing to other people lets him feel free even when he's in prison and helps him build and maintain relationships. And when his writing starts getting published even while he's in prison, Shaka finds hope that writing will help him make a living and make an impact on his community by telling his story and helping other young people make good choices.

Writing really does help Shaka right his wrongs—both the ones done to him and the ones he's done—making his title a very clever pun.

Questions About Literature and Writing

  1. Writing really seems to be a key thing that turned Shaka's life around. Could it have this power for everyone, or is it more something that works for specific people?
  2. Are there any similarities in how Shaka experiences writing and how you do?
  3. How does reading shape Shaka's interest in writing? Is that similar to your experience or not?

Chew on This

Reading widely gives Shaka the models he needs to start writing.

Writing can change anyone's life, even if their circumstances are very different than Shaka's.

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