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Richard Wright quotes (showing 1-30 of 140)

“Whenever my environment had failed to support or nourish me, I had clutched at books...”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“The artist must bow to the monster of his own imagination.”
Richard Wright
“I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of the hunger for life that gnaws in us all.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread.”
Richard Wright, Native Son
“Violence is a personal necessity for the oppressed...It is not a strategy consciously devised. It is the deep, instinctive expression of a human being denied individuality.”
Richard Wright, Native Son
“Reading was like a drug, a dope. The novels created moods in which I lived for days.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“They hate because they fear, and they fear because they feel that the deepest feelings of their lives are being assaulted and outraged. And they do not know why; they are powerless pawns in a blind play of social forces.”
Richard Wright, Native Son
“Our too-young and too-new America, lusty because it is lonely, aggressive because it is afraid, insists upon seeing the world in terms of good and bad, the holy and the evil, the high and the low, the white and the black; our America is frightened of fact, of history, of processes, of necessity. It hugs the easy way of damning those whom it cannot understand, of excluding those who look different, and it salves its conscience with a self-draped cloak of righteousness”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“I did not know if the story was factually true or not, but it was emotionally true [...].”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
tags: truth
“Love grows from stable relationships, shared experience, loyalty, devotion, trust.”
Richard Wright
“All literature is protest.”
Richard Wright
“It was not a matter of believing or disbelieving what I read, but of feeling something new, of being affected by something that made the look of the world different.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“Anything seemed possible, likely, feasible, because I wanted everything to be possible... Because I had no power to make things happen outside of me in the objective world, I made things happen within. Because my environment was bare and bleak, I endowed it with unlimited potentialities, redeemed it for the sake of my own hungry and cloudy yearning.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“If a man confessed anything on his death bed, it was the truth; for no man could stare death in the face and lie.”
Richard Wright
“I was leaving the South
to fling myself into the unknown . . .
I was taking a part of the South
to transplant in alien soil,
to see if it could grow differently,
if it could drink of new and cool rains,
bend in strange winds,
respond to the warmth of other suns
and, perhaps, to bloom”
Richard Wright
“I was not leaving the south to forget the south, but so that some day I might understand it”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“My mother's suffering grew into a symbol in my mind, gathering to itself all the poverty, the ignorance, the helplessness; the painful, baffling, hunger-ridden days and hours; the restless moving, the futile seeking, the uncertainty, the fear, the dread; the meaningless pain and the endless suffering. Her life set the emotional tone of my life, colored the men and women I was to meet in the future, conditioned my relation to events that had not yet happened, determined my attitude to situations and circumstances I had yet to face. A somberness of spirit that I was never to lose settled over me during the slow years of my mother's unrelieved suffering, a somberness that was to make me stand apart and look upon excessive joy with suspicion, that was to make me keep forever on the move, as though to escape a nameless fate seeking to overtake me.
At the age of twelve, before I had one year of formal schooling, I had a conception of life that no experience would ever erase, a predilection for what was real that no argument could ever gainsay, a sense of the world that was mine and mine alone, a notion as to what life meant that no education could ever alter, a conviction that the meaning of living came only when one was struggling to wring a meaning out of meaningless suffering.
At the age of twelve I had an attitude toward life that was to endure, that was to make me seek those areas of living that would keep it alive, that was to make me skeptical of everything while seeking everything, tolerant of all and yet critical. The spirit I had caught gave me insight into the sufferings of others, made me gravitate toward those whose feelings were like my own, made me sit for hours while others told me of their lives, made me strangely tender and cruel, violent and peaceful.
It made me want to drive coldly to the heart of every question and it open to the core of suffering I knew I would find there. It made me love burrowing into psychology, into realistic and naturalistic fiction and art, into those whirlpools of politics that had the power to claim the whole of men's souls. It directed my loyalties to the side of men in rebellion; it made me love talk that sought answers to questions that could help nobody, that could only keep alive in me that enthralling sense of wonder and awe in the face of the drama of human feeling which is hidden by the external drama of life.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“I didn't know I was really alive in this world until I felt things hard enough to kill for 'em...”
Richard Wright, Native Son
“I knew that I lived in a country in which the aspirations of black people were limited, marked-off. Yet I felt that I had to go somewhere and do something to redeem my being alive.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“Make up your mind, Snail! You are half inside your house, And halfway out!”
Richard Wright
“Pity can purge us of hostility and arouse feelings of identification with the characters, but it can also be a consoling reassurance which leads us to believe that we have understood, and that, in pitying, we have even done something to right a wrong.”
Richard Wright, Native Son
tags: pity
“But the color of a Negro's skin makes him easily recognizable, makes him suspect, converts him into a defenseless target”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“The white folks like for us to be religious, then they can do what they want to with us.”
Richard Wright, Native Son
“He had lived and acted on the assumption that he was alone, and now he saw that he had not been. What he had done made others suffer. No matter how much he would long for them to forget him, they would not be able to. His family was a part of him, not only in blood, but in spirit.”
Richard Wright, Native Son
“Is not life exactly what it ought to be, in a certain sense? Isn't it only the naive who find all of this baffling? If you've a notion of what man's heart is, wouldn't you say that maybe the whole effort of man on earth to build a civilization is simply man's frantic and frightened attempt to hide himself from himself?”
Richard Wright
“Hunger has always been more or less at my elbow when I played, but now I began to wake up at night to find hunger standing at my bedside, staring at my gauntly.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy
“At the age of twelve I had an attitude toward life that was to endure, that was to make me seek those areas of living that would keep it alive, that was to make me skeptical of everything while seeking everything, tolerant of all and yet critical. The spirit I had caught gave me insight into the suffering of others, made me gravitate toward those whose feelings were like my own, made me sit for hours while others told me of their lives, made me strangely tender and cruel, violent and peaceful. ”
Richard Wright
“Goddamnit, look! We live here and they live there. We black and they white. They got things and we ain't. They do things and we can't. It's just like livin' in jail.”
Richard Wright, Native Son
“there are times when life's ends are so raveled that reason and sense cry out that we stop and gather them together again before we can proceed”
Richard Wright
“It made me love talk that sought answers to questions that could help nobody, that could only keep alive in me that enthralling sense of wonder and awe in the face of the drama of human feeling which is hidden by the external drama of life.”
Richard Wright, Black Boy

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