The Library Card Essay

617 Words Feb 28th, 2006 3 Pages
The Library Card
Richard Wright owes the awakening of his consciousness to his curiosity over why a Southern newspaper would describe a white man, an author named H. L. Mencken, as a fool. The newspaper’s harsh criticism of Mencken made Wright, a black man in the American South, feel somewhat sympathetic of Mencken and curious to know why “the South, which had assigned me the role of a non-man, cast at him its hardest words?” (9). In his first reading of Mencken’s writing, Wright finds out the answer. Mencken’s writing is forceful and bold. Wright observes, “this man was fighting, fighting with words. He was using words as a weapon, using them as one would use a club” (11). This lead Wright to the further realization that “Then,
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Although he wants to express himself in writing like the authors he reads, it seems to him almost an impossible task given his position in life and the obstacles he faced as a poor black man in the American South. He expresses this frustration when he says, “I now knew what being a Negro meant. I could endure the hunger and I had learned to live with hate. But to feel that there were feelings denied me, that the very breath of life itself was beyond my reach, that more than anything else hurt, wounded me” (13). The books not only made him conscious of his oppressive surroundings, but it also made him feel more and more alone. He has no one to share his new insights into the world with. He does not dare discuss them with his white co-workers, and although he has heard of educated African Americans, he has never actually met any. Ultimately, as the books expand his understanding of the world, it makes him see more clearly the smallness and constraints of world in which he actually lives and encourage him to seek a way to overcome it. “My reading had created a vast sense of distance between me and the world in which I lived and tried to make a living, and that sense of distance was increasing each day”

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