Black Boy

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The principal Character Analysis

Head of the high school in which Richard attends ninth grade, the principal provides a school-sanctioned speech for Richard to read at his ninth-grade graduation. But Richard refuses to do so, and the principal, in return, states that he will not hire Richard to teach in the Jackson school system.

The principal Quotes in Black Boy

The Black Boy quotes below are all either spoken by The principal or refer to The principal. 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 8 Quotes

Look, Dick, you’re throwing away your future here in Jackson. Go to the principal, talk to him, take his speech and say it. I’m saying the one he wrote. So why can’t you? What the hell? What can you lose?
No.

Related Characters: Richard Wright (speaker), Griggs (speaker), The principal
Related Symbols: Books and Novels
Page Number: 202
Explanation and Analysis:

Richard is given a speech by the superintendent of his junior high school, to deliver as that school's valedictorian. But Richard believes he has earned the right to give his own speech, and he labors over his words for weeks and weeks, doing everything he can to make them shine. Tom reads both speeches and says that the administration's version is better, but Richard believes in the principle at stake - that he has a right to say what is on his mind, especially if he has earned this right by being the best student in the class.

Richard knows, however, that there will be consequences for his actions - that he might not get a job as a teacher in that school if he is insubordinate to the school's administration. But it has become clear at this point in the novel that Richard does not want to stay in Jackson and teach, that he wants to move somewhere else and continue in his education - which is what he winds up doing. 

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The principal Character Timeline in Black Boy

The timeline below shows where the character The principal appears in Black Boy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8
Racism 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
...to give a speech at the graduation ceremony, and soon afterward is called into the principal’s office, where the principal gives him an “official” speech Richard is to read. Richard, who... (full context)
Racism 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
...his own speech, even after Tom tells him (after having read both speeches) that the principal’s is more polished. Richard borrows money from Mrs. Bibbs, buys a suit (his first), and... (full context)