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Richard Wright's Native Son

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He warns how there will be more men like Bigger if America does not put an end to it. Nevertheless, Bigger is sentenced to death. Bigger is not a traditional hero by any means (Wright 2010). Wright forces us to enter into Bigger’s mind and to understand the devastating effects of the social conditions in which he was raised. Bigger was not born a violent criminal. He is a “native son”: a product of American culture and the violence and racism that suffuse it. Richard Wright himself was born on a farm in Mississippi in September 1908, and although he attended a porochial school, much like Bigger Thomas in Native Son he was rebellious.

An illnesses Wright’s mother suffered drained the family and forced him to work a number of jobs during his formative years, but despite sporadic schooling, he graduated valedictorian of his junior high school, but financial troubles worsened. Wright was forced to drop out of high school after only a few weeks to work. Just prior to the Great Depression, his family moved to Chicago, where Wright devoted himself seriously to writing. In 1934, Wright became a member of the Communist Party and began publishing articles and poetry in numerous left-wing publications (McAdam 1999).

Still his family’s sole financial support, Wright took a job with the Federal Writers’ Project helping research the history of blacks in Chicago. Native Son stirred controversy shocking the sensibilities of both black and white America. He wanted readers to see the inequity of race relations. Wright does not inoculate Bigger with any romantic traits so common to literary heroes.

Instead, Bigger is a resentful product of his world. Bigger is a fusion of men Wright had himself known growing up in the South. Confronted by racism and oppression and left with few options, many became antisocial and violent. They were disasters waiting to happen. In some ways, Bigger Thomas is Richard Wright. In the late 1940s, Wright became involved in the existentialist movement. Native Son is Wright’s warning that if American did not change, the oppressed would rise up against the power structure. It is clear to see how Richard Wright’s experiences in 1930s America influenced his writing of Native Son.

Like Bigger, Richard had not only seen others suffer under the sociopolitical economic status quo of the time but he himself had also experienced the difficulty. Knowing the details, it is not difficult to understand his message. If people’s lives are difficult enough, they become like trapped animals and may act out not much differently.

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preview essay on Richard Wright's Native Son
  • Pages: 4 (1000 words)
  • Document Type: Essay
  • Subject: Unsorted
  • Level: Ph.D.
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