“A soul-stirring story. Richard Wright’s “The Man who lived Underground.” is a victory in literature, that may have been written nearly 80-years ago, but its’ timing could not be any more perfect.
The story follows Freddie, who finds himself in a realistic horror story, when he is accused and arrested by three white police officers for the murder of a couple, Mr. and Mrs. Peabody. Richard Wright wastes no time invoking visceral emotions of dread and confusion when Freddie’s plead of innocence falls on intentional deaf ears. The sequence that follows their arrival at the police station, is by far, the most intense torture scenes, physical and psychological, I have ever read in a book. I put the book down a couple of times because I felt my rage rise and I wanted to jump into the pages to help Freddie escape. I felt helpless, maybe that was Wright’s intent.
Freddie gets tricked into signing a confession letter and as part of the deal, the cops take him to see his pregnant fiancé, who immediately goes into labor. Once they all arrive at the hospital, Freddie takes advantage of the situation and escapes from the cops. Fearful of what may happen if he is caught, he finds a manhole in the streets and escapes underground.
I will not play spoiler, but Richard Wright’s use of symbolism of a black man’s place in America, is masterful. The deeper that Freddie goes in the sewers, the more he becomes content with insanity.
“The Man who lived Underground” is a must-read force. It is always wonderful when a literary giant reminds the world about how it is done."
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