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Black Boy Chapter 4
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Black Boy Chapter 4


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  • 1. Black Boy Chapter 4
  • 2.
    • Richard again faces hunger when he moves back to Jackson.
    • His main meals are flour and lard mush for breakfast, followed by a plate of greens cooked in lard for dinner.
  • 3.
    • He learns to temper his hunger, if only briefly, by drinking so much water that his stomach feels tight and full.
  • 4.
    • Aunt Addie joins Granny in the fight to save Richard’s soul, and tempers again flare.
    • Richard unwillingly enters the religious school where Addie teaches.
  • 5.
    • The tension between Richard and Addie escalates when she wrongly accuses Richard of eating walnuts in class.
    • The guilty student was actually the one sitting directly in front of Richard, but Richard does not want to rat on his classmate.
  • 6.
    • While trying to defend himself, Richard accidentally calls her “Aunt Addie” rather than “Miss Wilson,” making her more furious.
    • Addie beats Richard in front of the class, and he becomes furious that the guilty student has not come forward.
  • 7.
    • Addie tells Richard that she is not yet through with him, but he resolves that she will not beat him again.
    • At home that evening, Richard tells Addie who the real culprit was, but she then decides to beat him again because he did not tell her this truth earlier in class.
  • 8.
    • When she tries to do so, Richard grows frenzied and fends her off with a knife.
    • He successfully defends himself, but Granny, Grandpa, and Ella all take Addie’s side.
  • 9.
    • They are more convinced than ever that something is seriously wrong with Richard.
    • He then recalls that the only time he ever saw Addie laugh at school was when he was injured in a game of pop-the-whip that Addie had suggested the children play.
  • 10.
    • Religion attracts Richard emotionally, but on an intellectual level he is unable to believe in God.
    • Granny forces Richard to attend certain all-night prayer meetings, but the twelve-year-old Richard’s hormones make him more interested in the church elder’s wife than in the elder’s words.
  • 11.
    • A religious revival is coming through town, and Richard’s family kindly urges him to attend, deciding that this is their last chance to reform him.
    • Richard knows their true motives, however, and is unmoved.
  • 12.
    • Granny recruits the neighborhood boys to try to convince Richard to go to God, but he knows she is behind it.
    • Richard is unable to explain to his peers his inability to believe in God.
    • He has faith in the “common realities of life,” not in any concept of cosmic order.
  • 13.
    • During a sermon one day at church, Richard whispers to Granny that he would believe in God if he saw an angel.
    • Granny hears him incorrectly and thinks that he has said that he has seen an angel.
  • 14.
    • She elatedly informs the church elder and the rest of the congregation.
    • Richard, already mortified at Granny’s misunderstanding, makes things worse by embarrassing her, correcting her error in front of everyone present at the church.
  • 15.
    • Granny is furious.
  • 16.
    • To appease Granny’s anger, Richard promises to pray every day, but he is unable to do so.
    • The act of prayer even makes him laugh.
  • 17.
    • To kill time during his daily prayer hour, he decides to write a story about an Indian maiden who drowns herself.
  • 18.
    • In his excitement to share the story with someone, Richard reads it aloud to the young woman who lives next door.
  • 19.
    • She seems astonished that anyone would write a story simply out of the desire to write, but Richard takes satisfaction from her puzzled bewilderment.