A Marxist Reading of Native Son

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A Marxist Reading of Native Son In the Communist Manifesto Karl Marx states clearly that history is a series of class struggles over the means of production. Whoever controls the means of production also controls society and is able to force their set of ideas and beliefs onto the lower class. The present dominant class ideology is, as it has been since the writing of the United States Constitution, the ideology of the upper-class, Anglo-Saxon male. Obviously, when the framers spoke of equality for all, they meant for all land-owning white men. The words of the Declaration of Independence, also written by upper-class, Anglo-American males, are clear: "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" are rights necessary to each human being and should never be taken away. Governments are established to protect these rights, yet these rights do not apply to everyone, particularly to the Bigger Thomases of the world. Although the framers of the Constitution and the authors of the Declaration of Independence could not look into the future to see the arrival of Richard Wright, his 1940 novel, Native Son, with its main character, Bigger Thomas, or the frustrated urban youths whom Bigger was patterned after, they did know their own needs. They also understood the importance of being free to attain those needs. Years later, Abraham Maslow agreed with the forefathers and gave the theory of needs a name. In 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow developed a theory of basic human needs: Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. His theory suggests that embedded in the very nature of each human being are certain needs that must be attained in order for a person to be whole physically, psychologically, and emotionally. First, there are phys... ... middle of paper ... ... is what society does to Bigger: it puts him in a cage, backs him into a corner, and when he lashes out, it kill him, just as Bigger killed the rat. Works Cited Boeree, Dr. George. "Personality Theories: Abraham Maslow." 1998. 7 November 2001. , Booker, Keith M. A Practical Introduction to Literary Theory and Criticism. White Plains: Longman 1996. Butler, Robert James. "The Function of Violence in Richard Wright's Native Son." Black American Literature Forum. Vol. 20, Issue 1/2, 1986. DeCoste, Damon Marcell. "To Blot It All Out: The Politics of Realism in Richard Wright's Native Son." Style. Vol. 32. 127-148. Grigano, Russel C. Richard Wright: An Introduction to the Man and His Works. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1970. Inge, M. Thomas ed., Fadiman, Clifton. New Yorker. 2 March 1940 53-53.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes maslow's hierarchy of needs, which states that basic human needs must be met in order for a person to be whole physically, psychologically, and emotionally.
  • Analyzes how wright's critique of capitalism is a guise that allows the rich to get richer.
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