In the third chapter, the quest for identity in the Black Boy is examined. The work is the autobiography of Richard Wright’s own life in the South during his childhood and youth. It is a true document of race relations in America. Although an autobiography it is highly personalized, the author’s eyes and ears and emotions were vibrantly sensitive, so he missed as little of what went on around him as what went on inside him.
In Black Boy which traces his life from a four-year-old up to the period when he boards a train for the north, Wright punctuates his account here and there with the consciousness that he is a Black. This awareness comes to him casually and moves him in a big way. Right from his childhood days, Wright had rebelled against convention. The work is not only on a search for identity, but it is also on the Black boy’s finding his identity and his brave attempt to live with it fighting against all odds.
Wright was the breakthrough man who came all the way up from all the way down. He was suckled on resentment, nurtured on anger, grew up on rootlessness, and tasted every violent flavor of alienation and hostility.
The fourth chapter is a study of the Existential crisis in Wright’s The Outsider which centers around its Black protagonist, Cross Damon. It epitomizes the modern quest for absolute freedom and identity in the absurd and hostile environment. It is unique in the sense that it rejects communistic ideals and naturalism.
The Outsider portrays the unfortunate world of Cross Damon, a twenty-six year old Black, who recognizes himself an outsider in his home compelled by his utter loneliness, anger and untold suffering. To escape from the hard life of a postal clerk in the South side, he decides to go to New York to discover his real identity and unrestrained freedom. Cross Damon though lives with his family and friends and does work in the post office yet he takes no interest in them. His domestic life is crowded by three women: Glady, Dot, and his mother. He shows no responsibility for them. He remains absorbed in his own thoughts and burdens.
Cross Daman fails to determine his real position in society. He seems to be captured in the existential self. Every killing has given him a new identity in society. The only problem with Cross Daman is that he could not get a stable identity. In order to defend his existence, he adopts violent means. He knows the fact that murder is not the ultimate goal of his life. He seems to be a man of a rational approach. He is fully aware of the negative and positive aspects of his brutal action.
The Fifth chapter deals with The Long Dream-A Pyrrhic victory. The selected work, The Long Dream has been distinguished among Wright’s novels as the only one, which deals with the father-son relationship. It contains the author’s unique treatment of a successful Black businessman. Apart from its employment of archetypes and symbols, the moving portrayal of its subject endows the work with a poignancy that compares favorably with Wright’s earlier works.
The structure of The Long Dream is the step-by-step progress of Fishbelly, a shy black boy, from the safe, warm world of the Black ghetto into the lawless world between the races where a few Blacks, preying on black and white alike, have the arrogance to live by their wits.
Fishbelly’s triumph lies in the fact that, unlike his predecessors, he does not resort to violence as an act of self-definition. He survives because he is able to play the role that the ruling white society forces on him; a role which he will continue to play until he can escape to a more tolerant society. In other words, he remains alive because he respects the limits of his personal freedom.
The final chapter sums up the findings of the previous chapters. On the basis of the research conducted, avenues for further research possibilities have been suggested. The unifying factor in these works is illuminated when they are studied in chronological order since their individual responses to the frustrations of society point progressively towards strategies for survival, self-definition, and freedom within a social structure.