Chapter 20 Notes from Black Boy

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Black Boy Chapter 20

Having been transferred to the Federal Writer's Program, Richard is now working with several of his old Communist comrades. They continue to ignore him, following the Communist edict of avoiding "traitors." Then he learns that they are trying to have him fired. His boss laughs it off--but unwittingly reveals to Richard that the Communists had been responsible for his being forced to leave his job with the Federal Theatre as well. Then, a group of protesting Communists sees him on the street and screams curses at him. Completely fed up, Richard decides to make an appointment with the local party leader to try to explain himself. He is not allowed the chance. He falls into despair, wondering why even Ross is not as hated as he is. Without having made any public anti-Communist statements, he is their mortal enemy.

Working as the chairman of a worker's union, he runs into constant opposition from the party: to hurt him, they are even willing to dissolve the union! Then, Richard arrives too late on the day of an important protest march. An old friend from the party sees him and invites him to march with the Communists. Doubtful, Richard hesitates, but the man invites him so heartily that he accepts. He is quickly spotted by another Communist who shouts, "Get out of our ranks!"

Chapter 20, pg. 380 When Richard looks to his friend for defense, the man is too frightened to say anything. Richard is forcefully thrown from the parade. Sitting on the sidewalk, Richard contemplates his history with the party. He feels that he will never accept it as fully as before, but he still has faith that, once it resolves its internal differences, it will succeed.

At home, Richard considers what he has learned from his life so far. His major problem remains the one of how to live a full life. He does not think that Americans, white or black, know how to really live. He resolves to try to write about the problem, to communicate with anyone who will listen or help. He concludes:

"I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of the hunger of life that gnaws in us all, to keep alive in our hearts a sense of the inexpressibly human." Chapter 20, pg. 384

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