"Using My Grandmother's Life as a Model": Richard Wright and the Gendered Politics of Religious Representation by Qiana J. Whitted My grandmother had deep-set black eyes with over-hanging lids and she had a habit of gazing with a steady, unblinking stare; in my later life I've always associated her religious ardor with those never-blinking eyes of her[s], eyes that seemed to be in this world but not of this world, eyes that seemed to be contemplating human frailty from some invulnerable position outside time and space. --Richard Wright ("Memories of My Grandmother" 7) Silent and fearless, an Indian maiden drowns herself rather than break a mysterious vow--this is the essence of Richard Wright's first short story, written on his knees during a time of prayer. Each day his grandmother pleaded with him "to pray hard, to pray until tears came," so frustrated was she with her grandson's rebelliousness, his willful religious doubts, and feeble attempts at Christian devotion (Black Boy 119). Wright consented to the older woman's wishes, like many of his own characters in the years and novels to come, with much apprehension and dismay. Convinced that his prayers were empty words that "bound noiselessly against the
The Southern Literary Journal – University of North Carolina Press
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