Black Boy

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Aunt Addie Character Analysis

Granny’s youngest daughter, and Wright’s mother’s sister. Addie is also sternly religious, and runs the Christian school that Wright attends in Jackson. Addie attempts to discipline Wright early in the memoir for dropping walnut shells in class, but Wright is innocent and maintains his innocence, ultimately threatening Addie. Addie then spends much of the rest of the memoir ignoring Wright and considering him a “plague.”

Aunt Addie Quotes in Black Boy

The Black Boy quotes below are all either spoken by Aunt Addie or refer to Aunt Addie. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Racism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harper Perennial edition of Black Boy published in 2015.
Chapter 4 Quotes

You’re just mad at me for something!
Don’t tell me I’m mad!
You’re too mad to believe anything I say.
Don’t speak to me like that!
Then how can I talk to you? You beat me for throwing walnuts on the floor! But I didn’t do it!

Related Characters: Richard Wright (speaker), Aunt Addie (speaker)
Related Symbols: The “switch”
Page Number: 121
Explanation and Analysis:

Aunt Addie, another of Richard's relatives, teams up with Granny when Richard leaves the house of Uncle Clark - believing that Richard is an inherently bad boy, that there is nothing anyone can do to help or "save" him, and that Richard needs only the guidance of Christianity to admit to and amend his ways. Richard finds Aunt Addie to be extremely cruel, and when Addie punishes him for making a mess in school, Richard denies doing it - it was in fact another student. Addie will not hear this, and when Richard tries to defend himself against her beatings, Addie tells Richard that he is possessed by the devil, and that he will one day be executed for the crimes he will commit.

This sheds yet more light on Richard's circumstances. He has done nothing wrong in this instance, other than standing up for himself. But those in positions of authority around him believe, in part because he has moved around so much in his youth, that he is inherently wicked - and that Christianity, imposed harshly, is the only thing that will put a stop to it. 

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Aunt Addie Character Timeline in Black Boy

The timeline below shows where the character Aunt Addie appears in Black Boy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Movement and Dislocation Theme Icon
Hunger, Illness, and Suffering Theme Icon
Society and the Individual Theme Icon
...Chicago); Uncles Clark and Edward and Thomas from Mississippi; Uncle Charles from Mobile; and Aunt Addie from Huntsville. Richard begins sleepwalking at night, out of anxiety for his mother’s condition, and... (full context)
Chapter 4
Movement and Dislocation Theme Icon
Hunger, Illness, and Suffering Theme Icon
Christianity and “Being Saved” Theme Icon
Reading and Writing Theme Icon
Society and the Individual Theme Icon
...is an extreme adherent to the doctrines of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Her youngest daughter Addie (Aunt Addie) returns from Alabama to Jackson to teach in the church’s religious school, which... (full context)
Hunger, Illness, and Suffering Theme Icon
Christianity and “Being Saved” Theme Icon
Reading and Writing Theme Icon
Society and the Individual Theme Icon
Granny and Addie both feel that Richard is an ingrate, because he refuses to accept the teachings of... (full context)
Hunger, Illness, and Suffering Theme Icon
Christianity and “Being Saved” Theme Icon
Society and the Individual Theme Icon
Later that day, Richard and Addie return to Granny’s home, and Addie begins yelling at Richard, again, for not respecting her,... (full context)
Hunger, Illness, and Suffering Theme Icon
Christianity and “Being Saved” Theme Icon
Society and the Individual Theme Icon
Richard continues going to school in Addie’s classroom, though she no longer calls on him, and barely acknowledges his presence around the... (full context)
Chapter 5
Movement and Dislocation Theme Icon
Hunger, Illness, and Suffering Theme Icon
Reading and Writing Theme Icon
Society and the Individual Theme Icon
Granny and Addie give up on converting Richard to Christianity, and Richard settles into an uneasy truce with... (full context)
Movement and Dislocation Theme Icon
Hunger, Illness, and Suffering Theme Icon
Reading and Writing Theme Icon
Society and the Individual Theme Icon
Granny and Addie will not give Richard money for “earthly books,” meaning anything that is not the Bible,... (full context)
Hunger, Illness, and Suffering Theme Icon
Christianity and “Being Saved” Theme Icon
Society and the Individual Theme Icon
One summer day, Richard is sitting on the porch steps with Granny, Addie, and mother—Granny and Addie are arguing about “religious doctrine,” as they often do, and Richard... (full context)
Hunger, Illness, and Suffering Theme Icon
Christianity and “Being Saved” Theme Icon
Society and the Individual Theme Icon
Addie goes inside, where Richard has run to his room out of fear, and yells at... (full context)
Chapter 6
Hunger, Illness, and Suffering Theme Icon
Christianity and “Being Saved” Theme Icon
Society and the Individual Theme Icon
...again falls ill. To bring in extra money and help around the house, Granny and Addie have Uncle Tom and his family, from the outskirts of Jackson, live in the house.... (full context)
Chapter 7
Racism Theme Icon
Hunger, Illness, and Suffering Theme Icon
Reading and Writing Theme Icon
Society and the Individual Theme Icon
...it from another source. Granny worries that Richard is “doing the devil’s work,” as does Addie, and Tom complains that the story is “plotless.” (full context)