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Richard Wright Quotes

40 of the best book quotes from Richard Wright
  1. #1
    ″ But he kept this knowledge of his fear thrust firmly down in him; his courage to live depended upon how successfully his fear was hidden from his consciousness. ”
  2. #2
    “Every time I get to thinking about me being black and they being white, me being here and they being there, I feel like something awful’s going to happen to me. ”
  3. #3
    ″ I’ve been to England, France and Mexico, but I don’t know how people live ten blocks from me. We know so little about each other. ”
  4. #4
    “He stood with her body in his arms in the silent room and cold facts battered him like waves sweeping in from the sea: she was dead; she was white; she was a woman; he had killed her; he was black; he might be caught; he did not want to be caught; if he were they would kill him. ”
  5. #5
    “The thing to do was to act just like others acted, live like they lived, and while they were not looking, do what you wanted. ”
  6. #6
    ″ All my life’s been full of hard trouble. If I wasn’t hungry, I was sick. And if I wasn’t sick, I was in trouble. I ain’t never bothered nobody. I just worked hard every day as long as I can remember. ... And now I’m in this. They looking for me and when they catch me they’ll kill me. ”
  7. #7
    ″ I didn’t know I was really alive in this world until I felt things hard enough to kill for ‘em. ”
  8. #8
    ″ Maybe we wanted him to do it! Maybe we would have had no chance or justification to stage attacks against hundreds of thousands of people if he had acted sanely and normally! ”
  9. #9
    “They felt they had you fenced off so that you could not do what you did. Now they’re mad because deep down in them they believe that they made you do it. When people feel that way, you can’t reason with ‘em.”
  10. #10
    “No; he did not think they would suspect him of anything. He was black. Again he felt the roll of crisp bills in his pocket; if things went wrong he could always run away. He wondered how much money was in the roll; he had not even counted it. He would see when he got to Bessie’s. No; he need not be afraid. He felt the gun nestling close to his skin. That gun could always make folks stand away and think twice before bothering him.”
  1. #11
    “He had done this. He had brought all this about. In all of his life these two murders were the most meaningful things that had ever happened to him.”
  2. #12
    “I just work. I’m black. I work and I don’t bother nobody.”
  3. #13
    “Was what he had heard about rich white people really true? Was he going to work for people like you saw in the movies . . . ? He looked at Trader Horn unfold and saw pictures of naked black men and women whirling in wild dances . . . .”
  4. #14
    “I’d soon as go to jail than take that damn relief job.”
  5. #15
    “Although he could not put it into words, he knew not only had they resolved to put him to death, but they were determined to make his death mean more than a mere punishment; that they regarded him as a figment of that black world which they feared and were anxious to keep under control.”
  6. #16
    “There was something he knew and something he felt; something the world gave him and something he himself had. . . . ever in all his life, with this black skin of his, had the two worlds, thought and feeling, will and mind, aspiration and satisfaction, been together; never had he felt a sense of wholeness.”
  7. #17
    “He felt that he had his destiny in his grasp. He was more alive then he could ever remember having been: his attention and mind were pointed, focused toward the goal.”
  8. #18
    “He had a natural wall from behind which he could look at them. His crime was an anchor weighing him safely in time; it added to him a certain confidence which his gun and knife did not. He was outside his family now, over and beyond them. They were incapable of thinking that he had done such a thing. And he had done something which even he had not thought possible.”
  9. #19
    “Bigger felt that he was sitting and holding his life helplessly in his hands, waiting for Max to tell him what to do with it; and it made him hate himself. An organic wish to cease to be, to stop living, seized him. Either he was too weak, or the world was too strong; he did not know which. Over and over he had tried to create a world to live in and over and over he had failed. Now once again he was waiting for someone to tell him something; once more, he was poised on the verge of action and commitment.”
  10. #20
    “To Bigger and his kind, white people were not really people; they were a sort of great natural force, like a stormy sky looming overhead or like a deep swirling river stretching suddenly at one’s feet in the dark.”

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  1. #21
    “It might have been that my tardiness in learning to sense white people as ‘white’ people came from the fact that many of my relatives were ‘white’-looking people. My grandmother, who was white as any ‘white’ person, had never looked ‘white’ to me.”
  2. #22
    “The day I begged bread from the city officials was the day that showed me I was not alone in my loneliness, society had cast millions of others with me.”
  3. #23
    “Already my personality was lopsided; my knowledge of feeling was far greater than my knowledge of fact. Though I was not aware of it, the next four years were to be the only opportunity for formal study in my life.”
  4. #24
    “I had begun to notice that my mother became irritated when I questioned her about whites and blacks, and I could not quite understand it.”
  5. #25
    “For I felt that without a common bond uniting men, without a continuous current of shared thought and feeling circulating through the social system, like blood coursing through the body, there could be no living worthy of being called human.”
  6. #26
    “My life . . . in America had led me to feel . . . that the problem of human unity was more important than bread, more important than physical living itself.”
  7. #27
    “Alone, they said, a man was weak; united with others, he was strong.”
  8. #28
    “I went to school, feeling that my life depended not so much upon learning as upon getting into another world of people.”
  9. #29
    “Had a black boy announced that he aspired to be a writer, he would have been unhesitatingly called crazy by his pals. Or had a black boy spoken of yearning to get a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, his friends--in the boy’s own interest--would have reported his odd ambition to the white boss.”
  10. #30
    “It was on reputedly disreputable Beale Street in Memphis that I had met the warmest, friendliest person I had ever known, that I discovered that all human beings were not mean.”
  1. #31
    “If I were a member of the class that rules, I would post men in all the neighborhoods of the nation, not to spy upon or club rebellious workers, not to break strikes or disrupt unions; but to ferret out those who no longer respond to the system in which they live.”
  2. #32
    “I stood on the sidewalks of New York with a black skin, practically no money, and I was not absorbed with the burning questions of the left-wing literary movement in the United States, but with the problem of how to get a bath.”
  3. #33
    “I knew that my life was revolving about a world that I had to encounter and fight when I grew up.”
  4. #34
    “Then how could one live in a world in which one’s mind and perceptions meant nothing and authority and tradition meant everything?”
  5. #35
    “I had already begun to sense that my feelings varied too far from those of the people around me for me to blab about what I felt.”
  6. #36
    “I walked home slowly, asking myself what on earth was the matter with me, why it was I never seemed to do things as people expected them to be done. Every word and gesture I made seemed to provoke hostility.”
  7. #37
    “I wanted a life in which there was a constant oneness of feeling with others, in which the basic emotions of life were shared.”
  8. #38
    “My writing was my way of seeing, my way of living, my way of feeling.”
  9. #39
    “I had lived so utterly isolated a life that the club filled for me a need that could not be imagined by the white members who were becoming disgusted with it, whose normal living had given them what I was so desperately trying to get.”
  10. #40
    “This man was fighting, fighting with words. He was using words as a weapon, using them as one would use a club. Could words be weapons? Well, yes, for here they were.”
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