Black Boy, by Richard Wright [Characterization]

Black Boy Literary Analyais

Reading, Theme 1 Survival

The short excerpt, “Black Boy”, by Richard Wright is is as tragic as it triumphant. Richard, a young boy faces his fear in order to survive. His mother appears harsh. Is she a good mother or not?  This will be for you to decide.

How does Richard succeed in his situation? Was it instinct or intellect that made him victorious? Again, this will be for you to observe and draw a clear conclusion.


It is an autobiographic account of his life in the 1940’s, so it is in first person.

Active Reading

Before Reading

Before you read preview the text. Read the reading check questions. Annotate them. Then generate a prediction 5+ sentences long. Do this in your reading spiral.

While Reading

While you read, annotate for word choice, diction, and syntax, the sentence structure. In addition, investigate the characters. Take time to consider the relationship between character motivation and character action.

After Reading

We will have an extensive discussion about the text. Be prepared to contribute your insights, observations, and annotations. After discussion, you will generate a written response to this story. Your prompt selections are below.

What to Do

After previewing the test and writing a prediction…

  • Listen and annotate text.
  • Annotate for the following:



Character description

Character Motivation

Character Change

Consider the Following Questions While Reading

  1. How did Richard change?
  2. What word best describes each of the characters?
  3. Would Richard’s mother be classified as a ‘good mother’?
  4. How did the battle of intellect vs. instinct present itself in this passage?



When You’re Finished…

After reading the text, write a literary response on loose leaf. Select one of the questions listed above. Write a monster paragraph providing a well organized, logical analysis, providing text evidence in support of your claim.

Review required elements and features of our 8th grade standards of writing. use the provided checklist to self asses your writing. Revise and edit before submission.

Need a copy of the text?

You can print up a copy for annotation. CLICK HERE