November 9, 2012
Close Reading of Passages from “Native Son” and “Invisible Man” Richard Wrights Native Son and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man are nothing short of influential novels that aim to shed light on racism during the twentieth century. Although, each author describes racism in different contexts and its impact on two diverse characters they both successfully describe what it means to be African American in a predominately white society. In this essay I aim to describe two seemingly different scenes in both novels that portray the meaning of blackness through the use of color, personal experience and white oppression. The scene I wish to discuss from Native Son comes from the end of the novel when Bigger Thomas is on the verge of being caught for the killing of Mary Dalton. Throughout Book II the reader is introduced to the snow that falls as the plot unfolds. However, when Bigger tries to escape being caught the snow is most prevalent. The narrator gives the reader a visual representation as Bigger Thomas jumps out of his bedroom window falling to the ground as the snow fills his mouth, eyes and ears (Wright 220). The significance of this passage is Wrights use of a colored metaphor that describes an overall “whiteness” that literally overwhelms Bigger. From this personal experience Wright is able to portray Bigger Thomas’ struggles with white oppression that he has experienced his entire life. The snow physically impairs Bigger from being able to escape in a timely manner. The snow has covered everything hindering Bigger making it ineffectual for him to defeat. Snow symbolizes the white race in this novel, and because Wright shows how Bigger struggles with the snow, snow can further represent white oppression (Wright 221). The importance of this scene in the novel is for Wright to demonstrate just exactly how oppressive white forces are and how it physically and mentally overwhelms Bigger. In doing so, Wright allows the reader to...
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