The following questions were developed by Dr. Jerry Ward for the short story Big Boy Leaves Home by Richard Wright. ~ Maggie
1.) The story opens with four black boys engaged in the banter known as “the dozens.” Why does Wright begin the story with a ritual involving verbal insults?
2.) How does Wright use a classic taboo regarding contact between blacks and whites to activate tragic events in the plot?
3.) What are the justifications for the soldier’s killing of Lester and Buck? For Big Boy’s killing the soldier? What point does Wright wish to make about justice and inequality? About justice and power?
4.) How does Wright use the themes of innocence and guilt in the story?
5.) Note the pastoral setting in which violence initially occurs. What do other acts of violence in the story lead us to conclude about the nature of violence? About the nature of the community wherein it occurs?
6.) Is Big Boy’s witnessing of the lynching of Bobo a part of his education?
7.) How important are issues of migration and displacement in the story? Why does Big Boy flee to Chicago rather than to another part of the United States?