This novel focuses on the struggle for identity of a young black boy in the Deep South. It is a powerful testament of Richard Wright's life which depicts a tale of hope and determination. Richard's life growing up as an African American in the Jim Crow South, paints for the reader the economic and social struggle that were clichéd for African Americans at the time. It follows young Richard through his youth, examining the hardships and obstacles faced by both him and his poverty-stricken family. Richard's only thought is to find a haven outside the prison that is his family's circumstances. Black Boy also shows a hunger in Richard not just for food but for acceptance, love and a sense of understanding about what is happening around him but most importantly he is seeking knowledge. Richard uses writing to explore and expand his mind but Richard discovers through an epiphany that writing will help him break out from the constraining worlds of racism, poverty and family. .
Throughout his life, Richard faces the need for a loving family to help and encourage him, but his family in a way, unknowingly help to form his independence. Richard's family was unable to provide what a family is normally supposed to, which was love, acceptance, and security. Throughout his youth, he faced the need to be independent. Richard's father was a terrible example to Richard of how an African-American man should act in the struggle of being black by drinking and womanizing. Richard's mother was his true example and taught him how to carry himself. Richard's Mother made him have to fight back whenever he felt that people were being unreasonable towards him. A prime example of this was when he is jumped and the grocery shopping money is constantly being taken from him, his mother just gives him a stick and gives him these words ˜ ˜If these boys bother you, then fight.'' She does this only to make him strong and independent because she believes that this is only way not to be eaten up by the world.