Foreshadowing In Native Son, By Richard Wright


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In the 1940's white people were clearly the majority and superior race. Whites looked down on all other races, especially blacks. This superiority had been going on for hundreds of years and was never challenged until the 1950's and 1960's. During this time period there were many civil rights movements led by Communists and other groups who believed in racial equality. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the most famous spokesman and adamant believer in racial equality.

The helm of all white supremacist groups was in Chicago. They targeted many pro-integration groups. Most of these white supremacist groups were located in the Marquette Manor, Chicago Lawn, West Lawn, and Gage Park neighborhoods of Chicago. During the 1960's civil rights movements, these areas were a main target. These efforts were not successfully completed in the Marquette Park area until the 1980's when integration slowly began to happen by a few blacks, arabs, and hispanics moving into the area. Most of the white residents kept quiet until the mid-80's. Then the anti-segregation groups formed a coalition and used scape-goating against the blacks to magnify the discrimination in this area. The magnification of this problem did not help matters at all. It caused assaults on blacks and firebombings of colored homes.

Whites hated blacks in the 60's and 70's because they felt that they were inferior to them and that they were supposed to be segregated. Blacks hated the whites for making them feel inferior and having more opportunities than what they had.

The book Native Son is about the segregation of blacks and whites in the 1940's. Bigger, the main character of this book, killed a white girl and was sentenced to the death penalty for it. The white prosecutors in the book tried to pin many other crimes on him such as rape, burglary, and other murders.

Even though Bigger did rob some people and kill his black girlfriend he was not tried for these crimes because in that day and time the white majority did not care about what happened to black people as long as they did not do anything to hurt or interfere with a white's life. The death penalty probably would not have been pursued if the murderer of Mary Dalton would have been white. Since Bigger is black he is greatly hated and despised in this book. Mobs were formed outside of the courthouse during Bigger's trial because of the hate the

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123helpme.com/search.asp?text=white+people">white people felt towards blacks.

Bigger claims that he killed because of the racial tensions that were put on him and all of the other blacks. He says that he murdered because he was constrained and confined because of those tensions. Ironically, when Bigger is free and walking down the streets, this is when he feels the most imprisoned because he could only go into certain areas of the town. When Bigger is in jail that is when he feels the freest.

Bigger wants opportunities that he was never able to receive because of the color of his skin. He wants to be able to fly planes and be able to fight in the army but he knows that he can do none of these things because he is hindered because of the racial discrimination felt against his race.

During the trial scenes it is seen that Bigger did not act alone in the crimes he committed. Mr. Max, Bigger's Communist lawyer, shows that Bigger is not fully responsible for his crimes. Mr. Max shows us that Bigger was constrained by the thought of knowing that he was looked down upon by whites.

Bigger is limited because he did not have the opportunity to go past the eighth grade in school because he had to work to support his family. He is also limited because he does not have the kinds of opportunities that white men had in this time period. The high prices of South Side real estate also limited him. If the prices of real estate would have been reasonable then he would have been more able to provide a better life for his mother, sister, and brother.

Bigger has no want for religion even though his mother is a devout Christian woman. Reverend Hammond talks to Bigger for a long time and gets no where with him. The reverend gives Bigger a cross to where around his neck. Bigger identifies the cross with the burning cross of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Bigger throws away his cross and throws away all religion.

The novel foreshadows that there will be a segregation revolution, meaning that blacks and whites will start to be given the same opportunities and treated equally. Mr. Max shows us that if it were not for the restraints that racism puts on us then the horrible crime Bigger committed would not have happened and many other similair crimes could have been prevented. The lynch mobs outside of the courthouse also foreshadow the great racial fights and tensions that would be felt later on. The violence that Bigger experienced and also gave out foreshadowed the violence that would happen in the following thirty years against the two main races. The rage that Bigger has against white people for making him feel ashamed, and the rage that he has against passive blacks who do not do anything about the limitations that the white society has placed on them foreshadows the rage that is held by the races in the future to come against the members of the other races.


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