A Record Of Childhood And Youth
This autobiography might almost be said to supply the roots to Wright's famous novel, Native Son. It is a grim record, disturbing, the story of how -- in one boy's life -- the seeds of hate and distrust and race riots were planted. Wright was born to poverty and hardship in the deep south; his father deserted his mother, and circumstances and illness drove the little family from place to place, from degradation to degradation. And always, there was the thread of fear and hate and suspicion and discrimination -- of white set against black -- of black set against Jew -- of intolerance. Driven to deceit, to dishonesty, ambition thwarted, motives impugned, Wright struggled against the tide, put by a tiny sum to move on, finally got to Chicago, and there -- still against odds -- pulled himself up, acquired some education through reading, allied himself with the Communists -- only to be thrust out for non-conformity -- and wrote continually. The whole tragedy of a race seems dramatized in this record; it is virtually unrelieved by any vestige of human tenderness, or humor; there are no bright spots. And yet it rings true. It is an unfinished story of a problem that has still to be met. Perhaps this will force home unpalatable facts of a submerged minority, a problem far from being faced.