Black Boy: A Record of Childhood and Youth

by Richard Wright

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Describe the conflict Richard experiences the first time he works for a white family in the novel Black Boy.

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Richard is shocked to learn how white people treat Negroes. 

The woman who hires him has a blatantly racist attitude towards him, telling him "we don't want a sassy nigger around here" when he asks for details about his job, and scoffing, "you'll never be a writer...who on earth put such ideas into your nigger head?" when she learns that is what he wants to do.  She expects him to be grateful and subservient, even though she treats him as less than human, giving him moldy molasses and hard bread to eat while the family dines on bacon, eggs, and coffee.  Richard says, "the woman...assumed that she knew my place in life...and I resented it with all my heart" (Chapter 6).

Although he desperately needs the money, Richard clings to the hope that not all white people are like that, and does not return to his job.

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