What is the significance of the opening and closing scene in the novel Black Boy?

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lprono eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The opening and ending scenes of the autobiography Black Boy (American Hunger) show Richard's independent personality and his rejection of every type of authority. In the opening scene, it is the authority of Richard's family that the boy rejects. In the concluding scene, it is the authority of the Communist Party that Richard comes to reject. Because of Richard's individualism, the conflict between himself and institutions lile the family or a political party which have implicit and/or explicit rules are inevitable. At the end of the first scene, after he has set his family home on fire, Richard is savagely beaten by his parents and relatives. At the end of the autobiography, hie efforts to take part into the May Day parade are violently frustrated by two white Communists. 

This narrative parallelism highlights the character's development. While the opening scene of Black Boy shows Richard trying to run away from his punishment, the closing scene portrays the mature writer confronting reality head-on. He comes to understanding that, as a writer, he has a social mission: "to hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo". His intention is "to build a bridge of words" that can link him to others. The images of the echo and of the bridge point to the writer's power to reach his audience and wait for a (slow and sometimes faint) response.


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