Literature Study GuidesBlack BoyPart 1 Chapter 11 Summary

Black Boy | Study Guide

Richard Wright

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Course Hero. (2018, March 9). Black Boy Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved November 14, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Black-Boy/

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Course Hero. "Black Boy Study Guide." March 9, 2018. Accessed November 14, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Black-Boy/.

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Course Hero, "Black Boy Study Guide," March 9, 2018, accessed November 14, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Black-Boy/.

Black Boy | Part 1, Chapter 11 : Southern Night | Summary

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Summary

Wright moves to Memphis, planning to rent an apartment, get a job, and save money to move north. But he is no longer used to the big city. When he notices a sign advertising rooms for rent, he is unsure whether he is seeing a boardinghouse or a whorehouse. The landlady, Mrs. Moss, sees Wright hesitating outside, calls him in, and laughs at him for being so uncertain. She is kind, but he finds her and her daughter, Bess, disturbingly simple and naïve.

The next morning Wright wanders through Memphis, staying away from his new home to avoid his landlady and Bess. He meets a young black boy who finds a jug of liquor and enlists his help moving it. When the boy runs away without paying Wright for his efforts, Wright realizes he is naïve too.

Analysis

Leaving home and moving to Memphis gives Wright the experience of being a small-town boy in a big city. Although he lived in Memphis briefly as a child, he no longer knows how city life works. He is too careful when he looks for a place to live, expecting dishonesty from landlords. Later, he is not careful enough with strangers on the street, and he allows himself to be swindled.

Wright's landlady, Mrs. Moss, essentially invites Wright to become a member of her family. Wright, who is not used to being treated kindly, finds her overwhelming and questions her motives.

Both Mrs. Moss and her daughter, Bess, feel the main point of life is to get married and have a family. They both judge Wright on sight as a good catch for a husband for Bess. Mrs. Moss tries to lure him with the hope of inheriting her house, and Bess tries to entice him with sex. But Wright holds them both at a distance and eventually tells Bess he is not interested. He senses he would not be happy in the life they are offering.

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