My name is Indiana. Bulgarian is my native language. I moved to San Francisco before ten months and I am still trying to learn English but I am having a lot of trouble with spelling and vocabulary. Grammar it's easier but I can't read either. I love to read books but since I am here I begun to hate them. I don't understand many of the vocabulary. And my reading is for a third grade level. I can read Cinderella only. In school, my teacher tells me to read Black Boy. But I don't know what does the vocabulary mean. I am just reading the words and the main point is loosing somewhere between the lines. Could you please tell me what the following words mean?:

admittance, sentiments, touchstone, fraternity, hostility, premeditated, loitering, reckon, extension, weave, roll, spurt, veer, swell and hogs.

I don't know any of these and I am supposed to read that book. Could you please help?

Thank you!
Hi again,

It takes time to learn a language but, every day, you learn a little bit more.

Your teacher has given you a hard book to read. But it is a great and important book. There is a lot of information on the Internet about it. Here is a summary of it. I got it from this site


but I have edited it to make it a little bit easier for you to read.

Good luck, and keep trying.


Plot Summary

Black Boy is a story based on Richard Wright's childhood and young adulthood. It is split into two sections, "Southern Night" (concerning his childhood in the south) and "The Horror and the Glory" (concerning his early adult years in Chicago).

The book begins with a mischievous, four-year-old Wright setting fire to his house. Wright is a curious child living in a household of strict, religious women and violent, irresponsible men. He quickly rebels against his surroundings, reading instead of playing with other children, and rejecting the church in favor of atheism at a young age. He feels even more out of place as he grows older and comes in contact with the widespread racism of the 1920's south. Not only does he find it generally unjust, but he is especially bothered by whites' (and other blacks') desire to squash his intellectual curiosity and potential. His father deserts the family, and he is sent back and forth between his sick mother, his fanatically religious grandmother and various aunts and uncles. As he ventures into the white world to find jobs, he encounters extreme racism and brutal violence, which stays with him the rest of his life. The family is starving to death. They have always viewed the north as a place of opportunity, and so as soon as they can get together enough money, Richard and his aunt go to Chicago, promising to send for his mother and brother.

He finds the north less racist than the south, and begins forming real ideas about American race relations. He holds many jobs, most of them menial. He washes floors during the day and reads good books and medical journals by night. His family is still very poor, and his mother is crippled by a stroke, and his relatives continue to annoy him about his atheism and his reading. They don't see the point of it. He finds a job at the post office and meets some white men who share his cynical view of the world, and religion in particular. They invite him to the John Reed Club, an organization that promotes the arts and social change. He becomes involved with a magazine called Left Front. He slowly becomes part of the Communist party, organizing its writers and artists.

At first he thinks he will find friends within the party, especially among its black members, but he finds they are just as afraid of change as the southern whites he had left behind. The Communists fear anyone who disagrees with their ideas, and Wright, who has always asked questions and said what he thinks, is quickly called 'against the party'. When he tries to leave the party, he is accused of trying to lead others away from it. After witnessing the trial of another black Communist for the same thing, Wright decides to give up the party. Still, he remains called an "enemy" of Communism, and party members threaten him away from various jobs and gatherings. Nevertheless, he does not fight them because he believes they are clumsily struggling toward ideas that he agrees with: unity, tolerance, and equality. He ends the book by deciding to use his writing to search for a way to start a revolution: he thinks that everyone has a "hunger" for life that needs to be filled, and for him, politics is his way to the human heart.
Hi Indiana,

Welcome to the Forum.

I love books, too. Don't give up.

My first reaction is to wonder why you can't just find these words in your dictionary. Is there some problem for you in doing that? Or is it hard to understand what the dictionary says?

Best wishes, Clive
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Well Clive, I think I get what she means. She's saying that it's really difficult to read a book when you don't know most of the words that are used, for you won't understand almost anything of it, and you will get bored after a couple of minutes.

I experienced this some years ago, and the only thing to do is to keep reading and reading, so to broaden your vocabulary as fast as you can: then you'll enjoy your books!

Best wishes,

- YoHf

Thanks, Both of you!

It is hard for me to find them because I don't really know the alphabet and I have to try to count it every time I have to find a word. And the words I do not know are a lot and If I will have to look every single one, I need more than a month. I am reading a book now, in English class. It's called: Black Boy, But I am having trouble doing it. The vocabulary is teriibly hard. It is a collage book, but my teacher still wants me to read it. It is really hard for me to read it, but I did it anway. However, there was a reading quiz today and I think I did a bad job. I am pretty nervous about getting the result back. Thank you again!

- Indiana
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