Native Son by Richard Wright Essay

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Native Son
By: Richard Wright

Native Son by Richard Wright is about a young, uneducated, 20 year old, poor black man, who lives is in a 1930’s Chicago society that makes blacks feel obsolete. Bigger Thomas is the main character, he is the oldest in his family with a little brother and sister, his family depends on him and his mom. Wright describes Bigger as a scared and confused person with very little ethics as they were taken away from him by society. Bigger is scared of white people because they are the oppressors and force him to live the way he does which is very poorly. His gang does nothing but steal from their own kind of people and they dare not steal from a white man. In order to avoid doing this and not admit he is scared bigger results in drastic measures. He separates himself from the gang by starting a fight with one of his friends. His mom stresses about taking this big job as a chauffeur with a man who runs the white society. They need this money in order to survive because his mom cannot make enough to put food on the table. Mr. Dalton is a wealthy white man with a blind wife and a young teenage communist daughter named Mary. The Dalton family turns Bigger’s life upside down as he ends up raping and murdering Mary one night when she is under the influence. Bigger then tries to run but is caught, put up for trail, and sentenced to death. In the book Native Son Wright uses characterization, imagery, and symbolism to show how white society gives the people no option in life and denies them the basic human rights to live free. In the book Native Son Wright uses characterization to show how society affects the nature of people. The people in the poor slum urban areas, like Bigger, have a hard time fitting into society because society does not accept them and their natural human rights are forgotten. Bigger cannot handle this hate of society and results in drastic unethical decisions. “He shut their voices out of his mind. He hated his family…he knew they were suffering...he would be swept out of himself with fear and despair.”(13). Bigger is afraid and powerless to help his family and is on the verge of breaking down or exploding, either one isn’t good and doesn’t help his family and will only make it worse for his family. He knows he is sacred of the world, society, and life itself, but he doesn’t show and keeps it buried deep inside of him. “He knew that the moment he allowed what his life meant to enter fully into his consciousness, he would either kill himself or someone else, so he denied himself and acted tough.”(14). At this point, Bigger realizes that he will be depended on by his family and he is scared to take responsibility of his life. He acts out of fear with this fake wall of toughness in front of him. It’s like he doesn’t want to grow up, he just wants to stay and have his mom do everything for him like she has done his entire life. Wright tries to show how effective society is on ones mindset of life and promotes fear which forces people to act out of fear like Bigger does throughout his whole life. In the book Native Son Wright uses imagery to convey a sense of fear and guilt in the actions of the people in this society. To be an African American in the 1930’s is hard because racism lingers through society which forces them to live in the white man’s shadow as their human rights don’t exist to the whites. “The rat scuttled across the floor and stopped again at the box and searched quickly for the hole; then it reared once more and bared long yellow fangs, piping shrilly, belly quivering…the flat black body of the rat lay exposed its two long yellow tusks showing distinctly.”( 10). Unsanitary, pest infestation, and no livable space are the conditions in which every African American family is living in under the roof of this apartment building which is owned by Mr. Dalton. Mr. Dalton is a very wealthy man but couldn’t spend a little extra of his money to make his apartments livable space for...
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