A very personal book about growing up as a black boy in the South of the USA in the early 20th century. Very raw and brutal – not in a physical sense, but in the way a mind is shaped by suffering from a racist society.
„Anything seemed possible, likely, feasible, because I wanted everything to be possible ... Because I had no power to make things happen outside of me in the objective world, I mde things happen within. Because my environment was bare and bleak, I endowed it with unlimited potentialities, redeemed it fort he sake of my own hungry and cloudy yearning.“ (Wright, 1937, p.83).
„I had never in my life been abused by whites, but I had already become as conditioned to their existence as though I had been the victm of thousand lynchings.“ (Wright, 1937, p.84).
„Gambling never appealed to me. I could not conceive of any game holding more risks tha the life I was living.“ (Wright, 1937, p.217).
This book also shows how language and stories helped Richard Wright at least acknowledging what is wrong.
„That was the way things were between whites and blacks in the South; many oft he most important things were never openly said; they were understated and left to seep through to one. I, in turn, said nothing; but I did not leave the room; my standing silent was a way of asking him to reconsider, telling him that I wanted ever so much to try for a job in his mill.“ (Wright, 1937, p.188).
„I rode off, feeling that they might shoot at me, feeling the pavement might disappear. It was like living in a dream, the reality of which might change at any moment.“ (Wright, 1937, p.201).
„My first serious novel was Sinclair Lewis’s Main Street. It made me see my boss, Mr. Gerald, and identify with him as an American type. I would smile when I saw him lugging his golf bags into the office. I had always felt a vast distance separating me from the boss, and now I felt closer to him, though still distant. I felt now that I knew him, that I could feel the very limits of his narrow life.“ (Wright, 1937, p.273).