A Civil War veteran for the Union, Wright’s grandfather is denied his pension by a clerical mistake after the war that misspelled his name, and which he believes was not in fact a mistake and was instead racially motivated. Having helped to found African American freedom from slavery as a soldier, Grandpa’s experience serves as a kind of symbol of the way that African Americans were exploited and thwarted immediately upon the attainment of their independence. Grandpa is mostly absent, sick in bed, during Wright’s youth. But Wright pays his respects to Grandpa at his funeral, and wonders whether Grandpa’s life wasn’t ruined by the impossible quest to receive his pension from a racist and impersonal federal government.
Grandpa Quotes in Black Boy
The Black Boy quotes below are all either spoken by Grandpa or refer to Grandpa. 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: Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harper Perennial edition of Black Boy published in 2015.).
Chapter 5 Quotes
Uncle Tom, Granny says to come at once. Grandpa’s dead.
You certainly are a prize fool. Don’t you know that that’s no way to tell a person that his father’s dead?
I ran all the way out here . . . I’m out of breath. I’m sorry.
Grandpa Character Timeline in Black Boy
The timeline below shows where the character Grandpa appears in Black Boy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...to beat him, since he has done nothing to deserve punishment. Granny, Richard’s mother, and Grandpa finally persuade Richard to put down the knife, but Granny and Grandpa call Richard “wicked”... (full context)