Refutation: the Story of Bigger Thomas ( Native Son )

Topics: Black people, White people, Richard Wright Pages: 3 (1156 words) Published: May 23, 2002
In Darryl Pinckney's discerning critical essay, "Richard Wright: The Unnatural History of a Native Son," Pinckney states that all of Wright's books contain the themes of violence, inhumanity, rage, and fear. Wright writes about these themes because he expresses, in his books, his convictions about his own struggles with racial oppression, the "brutal realities of his early life." Pinckney claims that Wright's works are unique for Wright's works did not attempt to incite whites to acknowledge blacks. Wright does not write to preach that blacks are equal to whites. The characters in Wright's works, including Bigger Thomas from Native Son, are not all pure in heart; the characters have psychological burdens and act upon their burdens. For instance, Bigger Thomas, long under racial oppression, accidentally suffocates Mary Dalton in her room for fear that he will be discriminated against and charged with the rape of Mary Dalton. Also, according to Pinckney, although the characters of Wright's books are under these psychological burdens, they always have "futile hopes [and] desires." At the end of Native Son, Bigger is enlightened by the way his lawyer Max treats him, with the respect of a human being. Bigger then desires nothing but to live, but he has been sentenced to death. Although Pinckney expresses many strong points in his critical essay, he also reveals weak points. For example, Pinckney mentions that Wright is neither a black leader such as Malcolm X nor a writer with any strong background in American literature, yet Pinckney implicitly states that Wright is a great writer and that one must analyze his past to understand how he is a great writer. In that perspective, he also commends Wright's book, Native Son. He states:

Native Son is unmatched in its power…It is not true as Baldwin claims that Bigger Thomas, the doomed, frustrated black boy, is just another stereotype…extreme in his wish to injure himself and do injury to others…

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