We read Richard Wright's Black Boy in my AP Language and Composition class, and I use this activity to help the students practice close reading or rhetorical analysis. This activity can take anywhere from 1-3 days, depending on whether you have the students turn in a formal essay or just have them sketch out their ideas.
This file includes several parts:
1. a passage from Black Boy that is especially rich for writers
2. a model annotation of the passage
3. printables to use in class or for projecting
4. an essay I wrote analyzing the passage to use as a model (I wrote it in 40 minutes to mimic the conditions of the AP exam).
Because AP is only one semester in my school, I do this whole activity in one day because we simply do not have enough time. However, I think it would be better over 3 days. Day 1 for annotating and prewriting in groups, Day 2 for writing individually and sharing in groups and Day 3 for discussing the model essay and comparing it with student ideas.
Although I use this activity in AP, it could be useful in any literature classroom as a close reading exercise. Black Boy pairs nicely with Frederick Douglass's Narrative of the Life of an American Slave, and it would be very interesting to compare Douglass and Wright, both thematically and rhetorically.