Four Levels of The Library Card (Richard Wright):

This lesson ‘ The Library Card ‘ is giving us insight into the racism in the then South American society, how they were deprived of the very primary rights.

1. Literal comprehension

Once a Negro guy from South America reads a news article on his office which says “Menken is a fool” he becomes very curious as no white man he has heard of has ever been criticized, it’s always the black. Now, he wants to know more about him. So, he gets an idea of reading from the books in the library.

Since blacks weren’t allowed to reads the book’s so, he thinks about asking help from his boss and also another guy named Don, but he rejects the idea and ask for help from Mr.Falk since this guy was a catholic Irish and hated by whites, there was less chance of Mr.Falk betraying him. After convincing Mr.Falk to give him a library card in exchange for the information for what he will do with it, the Negro guy forges Mr.Falk’s signature, writes a letter even belittles himself on it so the librarian won’t be suspicious. The librarian becomes suspicious at first but gives him the books anyway.

After getting back home, he doesn’t even know the meaning of the title of the first book ‘A Book of Prefaces”. The second book named “Prejudice” which he has heard all he lives and doesn’t quite like the word. When he finishes reading, he is surprised by the beautiful language used there, the way the words are presented, in the form of some weapon. He cannot comprehend how someone can write something with so much courage.

This ignites his curiosity more, he starts reading books every day. Slowly and steadily he starts learning about the white people society. Because of so much knowledge about domination, he wants to protests but there aren’t many people to support him and he does not want to die. He wants to write about it, to pour out all his emotions but he doesn’t have words due to the inadequate knowledge of the language to properly experience between him and the world he lives in. he couldn’t live in that same place.

2. Interpretation

This lesson ‘ The Library Card ‘ is trying to give us insight into the racism in the then south America society, how they were deprived of the very primary rights of getting an education and raising their voice. As for education, it might be telling us formality education is not everything we can learn so much more from the outside, from poems, essays, biography, etc. if we are self-motivated enough to learn something.

Our thirst for knowledge will itself drive us to the source of knowledge as the guy in the story, due to this want to know more, we went inside a place where his kind was banned. Similarly, it might also be showing us that real use of education is not for work but for us to bring change in our-self, change in how we see the world and how logically we deal with situations and time.

3. Critical thinking

This story ‘ The Library Card ‘ is really interesting to read as it talks about the condition of the black people even after the slavery system had ended.

  • But the thing, that doesn’t quite go with the story is that black guy who didn’t have the right to get an education an illiterate and uneducated person how could he read and write?
  • He wrote the similar kinds of notes regularly, the librarian was already suspicious of him for the first time shouldn’t he have been caught?
  • After reading and becoming an educated man, if he’ll not protest for change because he doesn’t want to die then who will?
  • Changes just don’t come one’s mind only. And if one knows that he is being dominated, he is being wouldn’t he speak up, wouldn’t he voice his thoughts against it?

4. Assimilation

This story of the guy reading all those books takes me back to the time when I had just gone to a new school. In that school, every single one of them could converse in English while I knew nothing as in my old school, we used to read English only for the shakes of reading only, there was no practical implementation.

As in my new school, I saw my friends speak English so fluently. I wanted that too. So, I started speaking broken English by using “ing” in the back of Nepali words. I focused on the things said in the class, asked my elder sisters and brothers. About the pronunciation and meaning of words, that I didn’t know I made dictionary my best friend and started listening to English songs, novels and movies even though I could not completely understand them at once. It can easily read, write and speak in English.