The Man Who Lived Underground

by Richard Wright

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Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 261

Read the sections of Wright's autobiographical Black Boy that deal with his strict religious upbringing. To what extent do you think his own religious background influenced the church scenes in "The Man Who Lived Underground''?

Find some other short stories about racial, ethnic, or gender-based oppression. Do you think Wright demonstrates more or less anger in this story than the writers of the other stories you found? Explain.

Investigate the laws and policies that govern police officers as they carry out their duties, and the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the 1966 Miranda v. Arizona case. How likely would a Fred Daniels of today be coerced to confess to a crime he had not committed?

"The Man Who Lived Underground'' was written during the 1940s. Based on the evidence in the story and other things you can learn about that decade, do you think the United States has moved forward or backward in terms of providing equal opportunities for all its citizens since the 1940s? Have any "wrong turns" been made along the road to equal opportunity? If you believe so, explain.

In 1993 the City Theatre on the South Side in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, presented a stage play version of "The Man Who Lived Underground." How easy do you think it would be to capture the atmosphere of the story visually? What scenes would have to be changed or omitted in a stage version? How well do you think an adaptation for radio would work? What about a film version? Which elements of the story would be best captured by each medium?

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