The Library Card – Four Levels | Adventures In English Vol I

The Library Card Four Levels

Author: Richard Wright
Unit 3: Education
Subject: Adventures in English Volume I

Literal Comprehension

“The Library Card” is written by Richard Wright, a black writer in America. Once a negro boy was reading a newspaper “The American Mercury” on which he saw a white man called H.L. Mencken being abused by another white man. He got surprised since he used to think that only negros were hated, but not white men. The article was a furious denunciation in which Mencken was called a fool. Therefore, he became curious to know more about Mencken and was highly inspired to read his books. However, the blacks are not allowed to go to the library. They were deprived of the library cards. Fortunately, he was able to use the library cards of a white man in his office and read two books by H.K. Mencken. As a result, he found himself in a different world. He understands the reason why Mencken was hated by his own people. He had talked about the equality between whites and blacks. The man he reads the more he understands the reality. In this way, the boy always went to the library and read the book more critically. After reading many books, he understood his boss and he realized that he had been missing a very important thing in life. Up to that time.

Reading became like a drug to him. So, he wanted to become a writer he had to know so many things and people well. That’s why, he brought English grammar for learning English, but he found the English better from novels than grammar, after reading many novels realized the suffering of slaves, suppression and violent operation of cruel law by the white against the black. So, he didn’t like to live the life of a slave living in the south because of his education. As he was in the minority, he couldn’t fight against the whites either. In this way, his education made him different from others blacks. So, he couldn’t forget the pathetic situation of blacks easily. Therefore in the end having felt incompleteness in himself to become a writer, he became very sad. 


The writer may be trying to tell us that education is the supremely important ornament of life. The more one reads the more knowledge one perceives about the vastness and mystery of the world. In this story, a negro boy becomes curious to read more and more after reading a newspaper editorial in which Mencken is severely criticized. His thirst for learning increases. As a result, he starts reading a lot. Reading makes him conscious of the painful condition and suffering of the blacks and changes his attitude towards life and the world. In this way, his education makes him different from others. Consequently, he understands the discrimination, injustice, and inequalities between whites and blacks. 


Critical Thinking

After reading this story we learned that the white people behave Negro quite savagely. But we know that the USA is a highly democratic nation.
  • In such a nation, how can we believe that blacks are treated so savagely?
  • Isn’t there compulsory education for all?
  • How can a boy forge the letter if he is uneducated and if he is discriminated against?
  • Was the black’s freedom realty seized? So, we aren’t totally convinced with the ideas of the story.


Before reading this story I used to think that English could be learned by means of English grammar. But after reading it, I know that we can guess the meaning of a new word according to the context rather than using the dictionary frequently moreover, I understand that education is supremely valuable. So, I have determined to continue my education to her higher degree for making my life meaningful.

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