English Project Topics

Racism and Oppression in Richard Wright Black Boy and James Baldwin Go Tell It on the Mountain

Racism and Oppression in Richard Wright Black Boy and James Baldwin Go Tell It on the Mountain

 

ABSTRACT

It is a known fact that racism and oppression are one of the major issues in black American literature. As such, this research work attempt to reveal, the themes in Richard Wright’s Black Boy and James Baldwin’s Go Tell it on the Mountain  by analyzing the concept of racial segregation of blacks in America. The study also examine the historical perspective of Black Writing narrative and the effects of racism and oppression, which include poverty, hunger, insecurity, assault etc, and the ways through which the blacks reacted to racism.

The study reveals that Baldwin’s Go Tell it on the Mountain and Richard Wright’s Black Boy which are black American novels were written to oppose racism and oppression in all ramification and also to gain self pride and identify. The researcher specifically recommended that “love” which “is a string feeling of caring about someone” (Longman’s Dictionary of contemporary English, 3rd Edition) should be accepted by people of the world to accept one another despite their historical and cultural differences love should be the binding force for blacks whites, Asians or whatever other races. if people can love each other, problems like racism, war etc would be solved without resorting to violent means.

 

Racism and Oppression in Richard Wright Black Boy and James Baldwin Go Tell It on the Mountain

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1  Background of the study

Racism in literary studies is defined by Wikipedia as the belief of genetic factors which constitute race as the primary determinates of human traits and capacities and that racial difference produces an inherent superiority of a particular race.

Racism effects are called racial discrimination. Although the term racism usually denotes race based on prejudice, violence, dislike, discrimination or oppression. Racism is also defined simply as a reflection of the economic system and its cultural ethnic and political ways.

The concept of racism is derived from the word race and it is believed that one racial or ethnic group is inferior to another and the unequal treatment is therefore justified.

According to Charles V. Halmton and Kwane Ture, racism is “a prediction of decision on consideration of race for the purpose of subordinating a racial group and maintaining control over that group”. On the other hand, oppression is defined by the encyclopedia as torture or degrading treatment and the use of threat or violence. It is also the exercise of power/authority in a burden, cruel or unjust manner. Oppression is also defined by Wikipedia as an act or instance of oppressing, the state of being oppressed and the feeling of being heavily burdened; mentally or physically by troubles adverse condition and anxiety.

It is this experience of black slaves in Black Boy. In the text, Wright recalls the plight of the early Africans that were sold into slavery between the early1700’s and 1860’s through compliance of their own fellow Africans. They transplanted to America, Canada, Caribbean Island to as “Black Americans” while those in the Caribbean Island are called “Afro Caribbean” but they all have a common roots and common problem – Racial discrimination.

The Africans faced a great order trying to survive hardship on their journey across the Atlantic Ocean on arrival to America; they were conscripted in to force labour, maltreated, abused and demoralized on the Colton fields and plantation where they were put to work as slaves. As a result of this hardship deprivation and degradation, the black began expressing themselves through Negro spiritual which marked the beginning of the artistic expression of the emotion. They told stories of unpleasant experience of slavery and oppression through pamphlet and short stories which formed the basis of Polack writings and which were late referred to as slave Narrative. James Baldwin on other hand also shows his experience in Go Tell it on the Maintain.

Baldwin depicts the insidious effect of systematic racism, producing for us a glimpse of the inhumanity that is the second and third generation result the era of American slavery that took place virtually form the period of colonization through the American cold war. we learn for example in part two that Gabriel’s and Florence’s mother were slaves freed only by the emancipation proclamation of the cold war as a result of this proximity to slavery the characters of the novel suffer a special set of physical, psychological and social circumstance. Gabriel and Florence for example have siblings which they never kwon because as property. The siblings were taken from their mother for various reasons but all having to do with the slave –therefore race –status and circumstance.

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The great migration originally held promise of better times and circumstance for each character but ultimate resulted in only a different often more oppression, level and manifestation of the race they were attempting to escape. The consequences of American slave and other investigate of this period that survived the proclamation and the war constitutes the racism that Baldwin depicts in Go Tell It On The Mountain. The project therefore sets out to trace the origin of racism in American and try to expose the horrible experience that the Black slaves went through. The experience that the Blacks recounted by Richard Wright in Black Boy and James Baldwin in Go Tell It On The Mountain will therefore be Analyses to expose the themes of racism and oppression as an aspect of the American society.

 

1.2  Author’s Background

1.2.1      Richard Wright

Richard Wright, the grandson of slaves was born in Natchez Mississippi on 4th September 1908.his father deserted the father in 1914. When Richard was ten years old, his mother had a paralytic shock. The family was extremely poor. After a brief education, he was forced to seek employment in order to support his mother. He had a difficult childhood which was characterized by hopelessness, insecurity and hunger as portrayed in his autobiography Novel Black Boy. Wright worked in a series of menial jobs in Memphis. He wanted to continue his education by using the local library but Jim Crow laws prevented this. Richard Wright solved this by pretending he was collecting a book for a white man.

After passing a civil service exam, Wright finds a job as a post office clerk. When the Wall Street crash and the and the beginning of depression was over, Wright lost his job for a period. He found employment with the Negro Burial society but that came to an end in 1931  and he was forced to go on relief after several jobs the relief office found his work with the federal writer project. This is enable him to publish his story superstition in the Magazine Abbot’s Monthly.

In may 1937, Wright moved to new York where he became Herlem editor of the daily worker and a new literary Challenge. The following Year, a collection of short stories about racism in the united state title “uncle Tom’s chicken” was published and Wright announced that all royalties would be used to help to pay the appeal cost of Earl Browder, the general secretary of the American communist party who had been sentenced to four years in prison for misusing a pass port .The publisher accepted Wright novel, Native Son in 1940. The book of the mouth club selected the novel as its march selection, therefore ensuring large scale and publicity.

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Over a quarter of a million couples were sold within two weeks, making it the fastest selling large novel in twenty years. Wright next book “Twelve Million Black Voices”(1941) was a sociological study of black Migration from the rural south to the urban North. BY 1944 Wright left the American communist party and published an article in the Atlantic monthly titled The God That Fault, his short novel The Man Who Lived Underground – appeared  in 1944 Wright powerful  autobiography and our main concentration in the project, Black Boy is a record of childhood and youth which was published in  1945. After then, there was a wave of great hostility towards black writers, so Richard Wright fled to parts. Wright last novel, The Long Dream was published in 1958. He died of a heart attack in parts on 28th November 1960. Richard Wright was indeed a true vise of the black Americans, every bit of his literary work sought to bring an end to physical and psychological oppression and also abolish racism and oppression.

 

Racism and Oppression in Richard Wright Black Boy and James Baldwin Go Tell It on the Mountain

 

1.2.2      James Baldwin

James Baldwin was a writer and civil right activitist. He was born on August 2, 1924 and died on December 1, 1987. James Baldwin was an important African American prolific writer of novels, poetry, short stories, plays and essay as well as a right activitist. He was born in Harlem New York, U.S.A. He would be the first child of the nine children his mother. Emma Berdis Jones (1904-1999) would give birth to James Baldwin would never know how his biological father was. James was young when his mother married David Baldwin, a factory work who adopted him. James Baldwin family was poor and the relationship b3etween the father and the son was not good Baldwin attended Dewitt Clinton high school (class of 1942) in Bronx.

At the age of fourteen, he became a member of the Pentecostal church in Harlem where he began preaching at that time too while his father opposed his literary aspiration Baldwin would find support from both a teacher and remarkably the major of New York city at that time, Fiorello H. Laguardia (1882-1947). James Baldwin is widely considered as one of the greatest writers of his generation. He was very influenced by the situation of blacks in his country as well as his personal experience of poverty when he lived in Harlem.

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Ultimately, Baldwin became one of the most Prominent figures of civil right movement Discrimination be it racial or sexual would be a recurring theme in this work. more precisely, he would seek to show the isolation of Blacks in society, but also the loneliness of many regardless of color which according  to him resulted from ambiguities inherent in one being Homosexuality and the desire to be integrated is only 0ne of the many instances of such feeling of loneliness.

Baldwin’s most known and celebrated work is his partially autobiographical novel Go Tell it on Mountain (1953) this novel was initially a gospel song by slaves on plantation in the south of the united state. Baldwin’s text denounces racism and more precisely the industries done to Americans community in the U.S in 1920’s the book is considered in one of the literary masterpiece of that Era.

Baldwin’s writing, in 1952 tell us in a heartbreaking since prose both, his own experience and that  a family caught in a kind of culture shock moving from the rural south to a ghetto in the North

 

Racism and Oppression in Richard Wright Black Boy and James Baldwin Go Tell It on the Mountain

1.3  Purpose of the study  

The purpose of this study is to create an awareness of racism and oppression using the personal experience of the Richard Wright in his autobiography Black boy and James Baldwin in his partial autobiography GO Tell it On the Mountain.

This work is to reveal the themes of racism and oppression in Black American literature. The intention of the researcher is to show that racism and oppression are prominent themes in Richard Wright’s Black Boy and James Baldwin’s Go Tell it on The Mountain.

The projects expose how racism and oppression affect the mentality and the way of living of the black race, reducing them to a level of inferiority in every aspect of their lives.

 

1.4  Scope and Limitation

The scope and limitation is on the theme of racism and oppression in James Baldwin’s Go Tell it On The Mountain and Richard Wright’s Black Boy so as to prevent the project from being untidy and ambiguous in nature. From intense research, the researcher believes that the two books are enough to fully express the terms of racial segregation and oppression on the cultural, political and racial and social issues going on during the period of 20th century racism. The black race being subordinate to the white race is the main and only scope and limitation of this work.

 

Racism and Oppression in Richard Wright Black Boy and James Baldwin Go Tell It on the Mountain

1.5  Methodology  

The research adopted the descriptive method to carry out   this study using the primary and secondary data collection design.

The method help the researcher to tackle racism and oppression in Black boy by Richard Wright and Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin.

The secondary research materials include a selected poems of some renaissance wrote like claude mckay “To the wrote friends “Derek Walcott “A far cry from African” and Paul Dunbar “We Wear the Mask. Also essay from renaissance writer like Lewis Nkosi, James Baldwin, Richard Wright and others.

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