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The role of Granny in "Black Boy"
Granny is fervently religious, her life-style metaphorically deemed a regime: a word which according to the Oxford Dictionary designates “a government, especially an authoritarian one”. Even though Granny is not the only household member to attempt to influence Richard, she is notable because she does so ceaselessly and formidably. Even though Richard’s mother is religious, she pales in comparison to Granny, who may possibly be considered a religious fanatic. The 1st example of Granny’s imposition of religion onto her family members is when Richard’s mother “announced that we were going to to move, that we had been going back to West Helena. She had since tired of the strict religious routine of Granny’s home” (Wright 59). From an early age, Richard is disillusioned towards Granny’s lifestyle he is not fond of how she deems Ella’s storytelling and books the “Devil stuff” (39) and bans him from her books, which are his sole supply of stimulation. He also dislikes Granny’s corporal punishment which is often doled out this is portrayed when Granny,“with all the fury of her sixty-odd-year-old body”(41), beats Richard for mindlessly uttering a vulgar phrase. Richard believes that leaving West Helena will rid him of Granny, who is a thorn in his side and only a single far more adult to berate and beat him. But fate did not proclaim it so.
Sadly, Richard and his mother wind up back at Granny’s door when Richard’s mother suffers a inopportune stroke and is unable to support herself and her children. Granny nevertheless has not ceased her way of life and continues to urge Richard to accept God into his life. Richard even so is indifferent to Granny’s guidelines and “[shirks] as numerous of the weekday services as possible” (111). Richard’s blatant disregard for Granny’s religious routine is displayed when he describes being hauled to church: “During the passionate prayers and the chanted hymns I would sit squirming on a bench, longing to grow up so I could run away, listening indifferently to the theme of cosmic annihilation, loving the hymns for their sensual caress but at last casting furtive glances at Granny and wondering when it would be protected for me to stretch out on the bench and go to sleep”(112). Richard offers up on Granny’s mandates when he finds praying “a nuisance” (120), and starts to write hymns to appease Granny to pass the time, but is unsuccessful. One day he writes a story, and feels extremely accomplished. Richard decides he wants to pursue writing, and is ecstatic when a regional newspaper publishes one of his stories. When Granny finds out about this she calls Richard’s story “the Devil’s work”(168). Richard becomes even a lot more encouraged to create and prove Granny wrong.
Granny pressuring Richard to give his life to God makes Richard much more rebellious in turn, and he starts to assert himself rather than silently and discreetly defying Granny. Richard lives in poverty, and desperately wishes to get a job so he can help himself with much more food, greater clothes, and textbooks. Richard “argues that Saturdays have been the only days on which I could earn any worth-whilst sum”(126). Granny responds to this by quoting Scripture and saying that working on Saturdays is taboo because it is the Lord’s Day. One more instance where Richard stands up for himself is when he refuses to accept a beating and “nimbly [ducks]” (134). This enrages Granny and other household members, as Granny falls backwards and gets herself lodged in the porch, but Richard declares himself innocent and says that it is Granny’s fault. Ultimately, in the ultimate act of opposition, Richard says,“That old church of your is messing up my life” (144), and leaves Granny’s house against her wishes in order to operate. Richard reaching the final straw, leaving Granny, and expressing his distaste for her church shows the reader that Richard is becoming increasingly independent as quickly as he breaks free of the suffocating noose Granny has confined him with.
Richard’s opposition towards Granny is like a forest fire. The flames begin quietly and unnoticeably with Richard’s silent dissent and escalate into blatant objection, gaining more energy and developing stronger. Going back to Newton’s 3rd Law, you could say that every single time Granny tries to push Richard into listening to her guidelines, Richard pulls away in the opposite path, a lot like two magnets of the same pole. Without Granny’s pushes, Richard in no way would’ve pulled away and become the unconstrained individual he is. Even though Richard considers Granny’s influence unfavorable, it is perversely positive simply because it sets Richard on a journey all through his adolescence. By the end of this journey, Richard has bloomed and has found himself and his objective earlier than most people do.
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