ERIC Number: ED168045
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1978-Nov
Reference Count: 0
Richard Wright's Thematic Treatment of Women in "Uncle Tom's Children,""Black Boy," and "Native Son."
Brewton, Butler E.
Richard Wright's literary work emphasizes a contrast between black women and white women. Although both are "givers" to black boys, the nature of what they give is different. The black woman gives physical life, feeds it, and protects it at the expense of spiritual or creative vitality. Her goal is to survive bodily, to breathe, to have enough strength to endure the physical deprivations of being black. The black woman mothers a people dead of spirit but alive with physical capability; she does this through counsel, religion, example, and, if these fail, physical torture. Young black girls learn this pattern from older black girls and the conditioning becomes a "mothering" of humans lacking in personal initiative and creative drive. In contrast to the black women in Wright's works, the white women are unconcerned with the physical survival of black boys. Instead, white women coax black boys out of the mothering syndrome and into the "mommism" syndrome, enticing Wright's black boy characters toward a life of the spirit at the expense of physical death. With this contrast between the physical and the spiritual, Wright points out the evils of racist, classist societies that fragment the self and force black men into unfair, unnecessary choices between physical life and spiritual meaning. (RL)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Wright (Richard)
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Council of Teachers of English (68th, Kansas City, Missouri, November 23-25, 1978)