Essay on Native Son By Richard Wright

Essay on Native Son By Richard Wright

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Native Son by Richard Wright is a heartbreaking story of the racial oppression that spread throughout Chicago and America during the 1930s. Through the experiences of his black protagonist Bigger Thomas, Wright provides valuable insights into racial segregation and the tragic ways in which it affected American society. Throughout the novel, Wright insists that Bigger was not born an aggressive criminal. He is a product of the violence and racism. By no means does Wright minimize the oppression of blacks by whites, but he does demonstrate that much of the racial inequality was due to the lack of understanding, among both blacks and whites, of each other. Bigger’s story represents a key development in black American literature.
In Native Son, racism is unavoidable. Bigger is burdened by his black skin, and clearly states his frustrations when he says, “Every time I get to thinking about me being black and they being white, me being here and they being there, I feel like something awful’s going to happen to me.”(20). Wright genuinely describes the racially oppressive character of the law enforcement systems in Chicago, and how “black people, even though they cannot get good jobs, pay twice as much rent as whites for the same kinds of flats” (248). Mr. Dalton’s private investigator Britten represents this racism.
One of the most painful examples of racism in the novel is the article titled “Negro Rapist Faints at Inquest” featured in the Tribune. In the article, he is described as looking “exactly like an ape!” (279), with “skin exceedingly black” (279) and a lower jaw that “protrudes obnoxiously, reminding one of a jungle beast” (279). The article cruelly accuses Bigger of raping Mary and then proceeds to talk about how segregation...


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...d for him.
Wright also argues that Bigger’s actions were guided by what he believed white people expected of him. At the beginning of the novel, Bigger frequently says that he feels like “something awful’s” (20) going to happen to him. This foreshadows the brewing events to come in Bigger’s life, and contributes to the upsetting concept that Bigger was destined for this life because of his race.
The story of Bigger Thomas and the mean and heartless racial oppression he faced is a story far too normal in American history. Wright demonstrates the disastrous effects of the conditions in which Bigger was raised. Thankfully, American racial oppression has drastically changed for the better since the 1930s. We should never forget the anguish experienced by thousands of men and women like Bigger and as human beings it is our obligation to make sure that racism is defeated.

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