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The Irony in Big Boy Leaves Home

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The Irony in Big Boy Leaves Home

In "Big Boy Leaves Home," Richard Wright uses different forms of irony and foreshadowing to depict the struggles of black youth during very tense times in America. From the not so predictable title; to the regret of being a hero Big Boy finds his adulthood in the least likely way.

At first glance, the title "Big Boy Leaves Home" gives the impression of a male figure that finally grows up and sets out on a journey to discover the real world. Far from being the case, exile is what the reality happens to be. Big Boy is forced to leave his childhood behind, grow up, and move north before he is lynched. Doing something that you're not supposed to do, can result in dire consequences. Big Boy and his friends are skipping school and as a result three lose their lives, and in a sense so does Big Boy. At the beginning of the story Big Boy is presented with his friends singing, teasing, and acting like typical adolescents. A particular song that the boys sing is about a train headed to the north. "Boun fer up Noth, Lawd, boun fer up Noth! (p. 19)." The boys rejoice over the train seeing it as a way out of the segregated south. Big Boy eventually escapes to the north himself. The boys expressed their hunger "N some good ol egg cornbread...N some buttermilk..." When Big Boy's mother was sending him away she gave him cornbread to take on the trip with him. While walking Bobo, Buck, and Lester decide to jump on Big Boy and try to beat him up. "WE GOT YUH NOW, GAWDDAMMIT, WE GOT YUH NOW! (p. 23)." Big Boy being strong and smart gets his arms around Bobo's neck and squeezed. "Quit, Big Boy, yuh choking me; yuh hurtin mah neck! (p.23)." The foreshadowing of the scene is present on page fifty-four whenever the lynch mob captured Bobo, "WE GOT IM! WE GOT IM!" also "AH WANNA BE THE FIRS T PUT A ROPE ON THA BLACK BASTARDS NECK! (p. 55)." The mob talks about hanging Bobo from his neck, similar to Big Boy's grip during the fight scene.

The boys soon make their way to the swimming hole, a place that is forbidding to blacks. Big Boy persuades his friends to jump in "LAS ONE INS A OL DEAD DOG! (p. 26)." While Big boy is hiding from the mob, he kills one of the hound dog that has found him in the hole "....pushing his full weight on the dog's throat. The dog heaved again, and lay still... (p. 59)." A white lady appeared by the tree where the boys had sat their clothes. It was clear that there was some nervousness from the boys and the white lady. Big boy and his friends feared white people, because they knew that whites were dominant in the south. The white lady fearing that she was going to be attacked by the little boys screamed for help. Once Jim came with the gun and also during Bobo's lynching it is clear that the little boys were the ones being attacked.

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