Whereas Richard has spent much of Black Boy either running away from troubles or reacting to them cynically or unproductively, the closing scene shows that he now has a more positive outlook on life. Richard’s travails with the Party could have proven supremely disheartening and debilitating for him. Motivated by high idealism, Richard has sincerely desired to unite the suffering peoples of the world and affect change through Communism. As he becomes immersed in the imperfect politics of Party life, frustration and bewilderment begin to displace his hopes, culminating with his personal condemnation and his physical ousting from the May Day parade. Richard could easily give up or succumb to paralyzing cynicism in the face of such a turn of events. However, rather than debilitating himself through self-loathing—as he does when he quits his jobs with Mr. Crane and with the Hoffmans—he now has enough self-confidence and self-respect to trust that he will find a way to work through his troubles. Richard uses his troubles to achieve a new understanding of humanity, saying, “perhaps that is the way it has always been with man. . . .” Moreover, rather than berating himself as a failure, he reaches a positive decision on how to proceed within the less-than-ideal world: Richard says he will proceed as an artist, “with no vaulting dream of achieving a vast unity.” He develops a sense of himself within an imperfect world, lowering his expectations in order to give himself the power to persevere.

Richard has finally come to think of himself as a thinker-artist, accepting the difficulties and limitations associated with such a profession. His independent, challenging, and creative tendencies have always caused him trouble, but he hopes that things will be different in Chicago. He hopes to find an environment more accepting of his love of reading, learning, and writing. Yet, even in the more cosmopolitan setting of Chicago, Richard’s reading chafes his family, annoys his employers, and provokes suspicion among his Communist peers. Instead of despairing, however, Richard reaches a new understanding of the imperfect world that surrounds him, and of his place in that world as a thinker-artist. He knows that he will never find an environment totally in tune with his fiercely inquisitive and creative nature. When he writes of his determination to “hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo,” Richard seems settled on a vision of himself as a thinker-artist fundamentally at odds with his world, “this darkness.” After all, if he lived in an environment that embraced him fully, he would no longer need to challenge that world through writing. Instead, within this imperfect world Richard must create challenging, insightful works of art, throwing them into the environment to “wait for an echo,” an indication that what he says has resonated with someone, somewhere. As with many artists, Richard’s artistic sense of duty might lead to a lonely existence, but perhaps his commitment to that duty is what carries Wright to the artistic maturity needed to write his great novels.