Richard Wright “American Hunger”


“American Hunger” is told through the eyes of a young Richard Wright who moves to a different environment than used to. His change of environment being from the segregated south to a Chicago not suffering from brazen racism. Though Richard does not have to submit to whites as he did in the south there is a tension between black and whites. He poses with is descriptions of how whites withdraw into self the question of whether knowing if your enemy hates you is better than not knowing. Though Chicago’s racism was not out in plain site like that in the south it existed and showed with the limited interactions that occurred between whites and blacks. Richard illustrates the conditioning which blacks endured in the south and what years of oppression can do to someone such can be seen when he is asked to sit inside instead of going outside by a potential Jewish employer but opts instead to wait outside. This deep conditioning of self hate cannot be healed, according to Richard Wright their are layers of hate in the individual and when the individual tries to cover up that scar different variations of the same scar takes place. A deep seated hate is born where the oppressed hate themselves more than those who oppressed them. Even if blacks were to gain certain rights it would not change the awkward position abuse and exploitation in America left them. Richard wrights fear and having to lie to his boss and not wanting to tell the lady of the hotel where he worked about the filthy cook highlights the hardships of being black in the south or the north. Richard Wrights involvement with communist came through his searching for  exception, the search to belong being a case with many blacks. Richards recount of his life as a communist further shows the black mans alienation from society, though he is to join something deemed significant like the oppressors of society he is labeled as an enemy for seeking knowledge. The plight of ones skin was to not be easily evaded and change not easily excepted. The communist fear similar to what lead the white man to oppress blacks, unfamiliarity according to Wright is the cause for aggression t0ward something. His stint with the communist party ultimately failed because what he was searching for (the ability to have a voice) and not be judged could not be found within a group which acted like oppressor’s instead of reformist.


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