Control of the Black Man in Richard Wright's, Native Son

Control of the Black Man in Richard Wright's, Native Son

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Native Son written by Richard Wright, is a novel that is set in the 1930’s around the time that racism was most prominent. Richard Wright focuses on the mistreatment and the ugly stereotypes that label the black man in America. Bigger Thomas, the main character is a troubled young man trying to live up the expectations of his household and also maintain his reputation in his neighborhood. Wright’s character is the plagued with low self esteem and his lack of self worth is reflected in his behavior and surroundings. Bigger appears to have dreams of doing better and making something of his future but is torn because he is constantly being pulled into his dangerous and troublesome lifestyle. Bigger is consumed with fear and anger for whites because racism has limited his options in life and has subjected him and his family into poverty stricken communities with little hope for change. The protagonist is ashamed of his families’ dark situation and is afraid of the control whites have over his life. His lack of control over his life makes him violent and depressed, which makes Bigger further play into the negative stereotypes that put him into the box of his expected role in a racist society. Wright beautifully displays the struggle that blacks had for identity and the anger blacks have felt because of their exclusion from society. Richard Wright's Native Son displays the main character's struggle of being invisible and alienated in an ignorant and blatantly racist American society negatively influenced by the "white man".

The effects of racism can cause an individual to be subjected to unfair treatment and can cause one to suffer psychological damage and harbor anger and resentment towards the oppressor. Bigger is a twenty year old man that lives in a cramped rat infested apartment with his mother and 2 younger siblings. Due to the racist real estate market, Bigger's family has only beat down dilapidated projects of south side Chicago to live in. poor and uneducated, bigger has little options to make a better life for him and his families. having been brought up in 1930's the racially prejudice America, bigger is burdened with the reality that he has no control over his life and that he cannot aspire to anything more than menial labor as an servant. Or his other option which are petty crimes with his gang.

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His mother pesters him to take a job, and is aware of his illegal activities with the gang he hangs out with. She constantly puts him down which makes him depressed and ashamed. “He knew that the moment that he allowed himself to feel to its fullness how they lived, the shame and misery of there life's, he would be swept out himself with fear and disappear" (Wright10).

The protagonist is caught in a small apartment with failure, inadequacy, shame, and fear controlling his life. Bigger only avenues are servant jobs and feels he lacks any control over his existence or direction. He feels trapped inside himself, unable to mentally confront the misery he feels without risking his own destruction. Overwhelmed with shame and fear, Bigger lashes out with violence, the only emotion displays and embraces.

Through out the Native son the main characters perceived the many boundaries of his life were already determined before his birth. The racially unequal division of power between white and black, rich and poor has put him in a disadvantaged race and a disadvantaged class. Bigger feels watched and controlled even when white people are not present, as if white people invade his whole life. Condemned to a degraded existence and certain doom. This sense of doom is showed by The State's Attorney, Buckley's campaign slogan: "If You Break the Law, You Can't Win!"(Wright 13). He is a powerful member of the institution of white justice, and his poster foreshadows Bigger's losing battle with white authority.
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