Black Boy

Black Boy Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Richard finds another new job, at the Federal Writers’ Project. Former comrades from the Communist Party are on staff, and they do not speak to Richard. Richard’s boss at the Project tells him during a meeting that some on staff believe Richard is writing and editing poorly. Richard realizes the Communists are doing what they can to thwart him, a perceived traitor, but the boss reassures Richard that he’ll be secure on the job.
Wright finds that there are some who will support him. Here, his boss recognizes Wright’s independence of thought, and at least tacitly agrees with it. There are not many instances in the text in which Wright finds a kindred spirit within an institution or workplace, but this is one of those rare moments.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Movement and Dislocation Theme Icon
Christianity and “Being Saved” Theme Icon
Society and the Individual Theme Icon
Wanting the Communist Party to stop hounding him, Richard tries to speak to the Chicago General Secretary, but he is denounced as a Trotskyite by an underling. Later, on May 1, 1936, Richard decides to march with his fellow union writers in a citywide parade. On the march, he falls in with a group of black Communists, who welcome him despite their intra-party differences. Richard is cheered by this, but then a group of white Communists nearby spot him and tell him to leave. When he does not, they throw him out of the parade. Richard, bruised, realizes that no black Communists defended him. He sees in the parade the “horror” and “glory” he observed at Ross’s trial. He returns to his tiny apartment.
The parade represents a flowing-forth of humanity—exactly the human experience Wright has tried to chronicle in the South and in Chicago. Like any group of people, this one is complex. There are some who support Wright, and more who wish to kick him out. Like other moments in the memoir, there is violence, although Wright is spared the worst. When he leaves the parade, he resolves to engage with life in a different way—to take his protest from the street to the page.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
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
There, Richard decides that he must continue his creative projects on his own. He does not yet know what they will be, but no Party will be able to direct him. He recalls his young life in the South, and his years amid the political confusion of Chicago. He vows that no Party will ever break his resolve. He ends the book insisting that his writings will “keep alive in our hearts a sense of the inexpressibly human.”
This last phrase is Wright’s statement of belief. His memoir has not glossed over the difficult or immoral parts of his life, nor has it insisted that these moments should define him as a man. Rather, Wright’s memoir shows one person’s immensely difficult fight to learn more about himself and those around him. Wright promises himself and his readers that he’ll never stop this work.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
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
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