Big Boy Leaves Home - African-American ExperienceMs. Nestlen

Big Boy Leaves Home
Travis, Shannon, Erik, Tyler
About The Author: Richard Wright
Famous Author, Richard Nathan Wright, was born on September
4, 1908-November 28, 1960, in Roxie, Mississippi, the son of Nathaniel
Wright, an illiterate sharecropper, and Ella Wilson, a schoolteacher.
When Wright was five, his father left the family and his mother was
forced to take domestic jobs away from the house. Wright and his
brother spent a period at an orphanage. Around 1920 Ella Wright and
the family moved from Jackson, Arkansas to live with Wright's
maternal grandparents. Wright moved from school to school,
graduating from the ninth grade at the Smith Robertson Junior High
School in Jackson as the class valedictorian in June 1925.
Wright had published his first short story, "The Voodoo of Hell's
Half-Acre," in three parts in the Southern Register in 1924, but no
copies survive. Many of his works addressed race relations in the
United States. Wright overcame handicaps to achieve literary success.
As a child growing up in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas he
suffered racial discrimination, poverty and limited education
opportunities. Despite these hardships he still managed to become the
American writer of his time.
Historical Context
The story takes place in Mississippi during the
Much was going on in America during the
1930s, it was the Jim Crow Era and America
was in the midst of The Great Depression
The Great Depression worsened the already
bad economic state that African Americans
were in. They were the first to be laid off, and
the suffered an unemployment rate that was 2-3
times greater than that of whites.
Jim Crow is the name of a race-class system in
the south from 1877-1960s where blacks
became second class citizens in society
Jim Crow was based on the belief that whites
were superior to blacks in every single way
including intelligence, morality, and civilized
Anti-Black racism and violence was ‘legitimized’
by Jim Crow because it was believed that
making blacks and whites equal would destroy
Theme: The Struggle of a black boy in the early
20th century south.
The story shows us how the main character (Big Boy) struggles to live in a
world where there is racial discrimination against people of his color
“Ah wish we hada bigger place t swim in”
“The white folks got plenty swimming pools n we ain got none”
“Whut it say?”
“NO TRESPASSIN,” read Lester”
“Know whut tha mean?”
“Mean ain no dogs n niggers erllowed,” said Buck”
“You hurt, Bertha, you hurt?”
‘ She starred at him and did not
answer.The man turned quickly. His
face was red. He raised the rifle and
pointed it at Bobo.’
-The boys have to go swimming in Old Man Harvey’s pond because Black people don’t have any swimming
pools like the white folks do. On their way to the pond they come upon a sign that is quoted above but once in the pond
they realize theyre spotted by a white woman who calls for a man named Jim. Jim runs to the aid of Bertha and begins
to shoot at the Black boys and ends up killing two of them (Buck and Lester). Big boy tried to explain that they just
wanted to get their clothes and leave but they were shot at anyway. This shows the struggle of a black boy in southern
Big Boy vs. Jim:
“You black sonsofbitches!"
The white man released the rifle, jerked Bobo to the ground, and
began to batter the naked boy with his fists. Then Big Boy swung,
striking the man in the mouth with the barrel. His teeth caved in,
and he fell, dazed. Bobo was on his feet.
"C mon, Big Boy, les go!"
After managing to shoot Lester and Buck
Jim is attacked by Bobo and Big boy who are just
trying to defend themselves and prevent from
being shot and that’s when Big boy gets the gun
from Jim and hits him with the barrel. When jim
gets back up he lunges at Big boy who then
shoots him.
Big Boy vs. Whites
Big Boy saw the mob fall back, leaving a small knot of men about the
Big boy was on the run waiting for Bobo in
fire. Then, for the first time, he had a full glimpse of Bobo. A black
the woods so they could get picked up by a friend
body flashed in the light. Bobo was struggling, twisting; they were
named Will and get out of town because they
binding his arms and legs.
were being hunted down by all the White folk after
When he saw them tilt the barrel he stiffened. A scream quivered. He
what they had done to Jim.While hiding out in the
knew the tar was on Bobo. The mob fell back. He saw a tar-drenched
woods he heard a mob of White Men when he
body glistening and turning
peaked out of the Kiln he caught a glimpse of
Bobo. This is an internal conflict because not only
did Big Boy have to hide out all night in fear of
being killed by any white people that found him,
Connection To History
Big Boy leaves home connects to the issues of African American of Everyday life during this time
period. Big Boy faces problems throughout the story due to the color of his skin, whether it was
finding a place to swim because they didn’t have a place of their own or if it was having to fight for
his life because him and his friends were going to be shot for swimming in Harvey’s pond. This
related to
African American history due to the fact that during the time of racial segregation blacks were not
allowed to be in the same places as whites and were designated to separate and more often than
not worse places, varying from Bathrooms, Buses, Bubblers, Restaurants or even Swimming
The Story also connects to African American culture by the way that Big Boy’s family dealt with
him having to flee town. His family was undoubtedly sad but at the same time his mother and
father seemed to be accepting at the fact that it was just what they had to do to keep big boy safe
because they were a black family stuck in a society dominated by whites. It’s almost as though
they had been prepared for this moment by the way they knew they had to call their friends right
away so that they could safely get big boy out of town, almost as if they had a plan in place just
incase something like this ever happend.
Works Cited
-Rayson, Ann. "Richard Wright's Life." Richard Wright's Life. Oxford University Press, 2000. Web. 28 Jan. 2014.
-"Race During the Great Depression - American Memory Timeline- Classroom Presentation | Teacher Resources - Library of
Congress." Race During the Great Depression - American Memory Timeline- Classroom Presentation | Teacher Resources
- Library of Congress. Web. 03 Feb. 2014.
-"What Was Jim Crow?" What Was Jim Crow. Web. 03 Feb. 2014.
-"Richard Wright Biography." Richard Wright Biography. University of Buffalo. Web. 30 Jan. 2014.