Chapter 16 Notes from Black Boy

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Black Boy Chapter 16

Soon after, while working in the post office, Richard meets a young Irishman who shares his cynical and atheist views. Through him, Richard meets other intellectuals of many breeds. Most interesting to him are the black intellectuals, who are strangely even less like him than many whites he has met! He sees them as ignorant, vain and focused on sex, and not really interested in learning anything.

Meanwhile, the depression hits, and since the volume of mail drops, he loses his job at the post office. Depressed, he comments: "Having been thrust out of the world because of my race, I had accepted my destiny by not being curious about what shaped it." Chapter 16, pg. 288 He starts selling insurance to poor blacks, reluctantly scamming them when he can so that he can make any profit at all. He also blackmails poor women into sleeping with him in exchange for their monthly insurance payments.

Richard learns more about the Communist party, appreciating its members' courage in speaking out but doubting their wisdom. He notices that their style of dress is copied from Russian Communists, and that their manner is copied from black preachers, yelling to drown out the opposition in debates: they clearly are unsure of themselves and not very thoughtful. He believes they are basically right in their view of the world: they are for equality in everything from race to economic class. But he thinks that their melodramatic idealism and close-minded fervor cannot be defended. They try to convince people by screaming at them, when Richard thinks that the people must be slowly moved in the direction of revolution. Violence is a way of life for them, as they live in fear of the police. He sees the problem of American life as one of meaning, and so believes that black people, the most outcast of all Americans, could change America so that all its citizens could live fully human lives.

Topic Tracking: Violence 9

In the midst of the deepening Depression, Richard loses his job and moves to an apartment so decayed that his mother cries when she sees it. Finally, he is forced to go to the Public Welfare Office, a place he has avoided out of pride.

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