Richard Wright's autobiography was originally titled American Hunger. Explain the meaning of hunger as depicted in his autobiography. For what is Richard "hungry"? Which do you think is better? Why?

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bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Richard is hungry to be treated as a human being in America instead of being treated as a black man, a man of color who isn't considered as good as a white man. He's hungry for an education and books that will help him form his own thoughts about how to live in a pervasive environment of racism and prejudice. Richard concludes that prejudices are "opinions which each of us hold no matter how incorrect they are," and tolerance is the "degree of openness we have to a world which does not accord with our opinions." When he reads Mencken, Richard decides that racism is just one of many prejudices that people hold. Richard also hungers to be a writer, but he's ridiculed for his dream. He sees life as a journey to find the truth, but everywhere he looks, he can find no suitable answers for the meaning of life. His greatest hunger, I believe, was to understand the "meaningless suffering" in life. He explains:

I had a conception of life that no experience would ever erase, a predilection for what was real that no argument could ever gainsay, a sense of the world that was mine and mine alone, a notion as to what life meant that no education could ever alter, a conviction that the meaning of living came only when one was struggling to wring a meaning out of meaningless suffering.

I'll leave it up to you to decide which title is better since it's a personal question for the reader.

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