Two rats and a cat are used as symbols in Richard Wright's Native Son. The rats, one found in an alley and the other in Bigger's apartment, symbolize Bigger. Mrs. Dalton's white cat represents white society, which often takes the form of a singular character. "Parallels are drawn between these animals and the characters they represent at key moments during the novel" (Kinnamon 118). These parallels help the reader identify with Bigger and understand why he acts the way he does. The animal imagery in Native Son explains some of Bigger's behavior and generates sympathy for Bigger and fear of whites.
Bigger's first encounter with a rat foreshadows what will happen to him later on in the story and explains his reaction to danger. ?The rat automatically becomes a natural enemy and an invader the moment it is discovered in Bigger's apartment? (Hakutani 41). Bigger's family is instantly afraid of the rat and demands its destruction. Buddy blocks the entrance to the rat's home, leaving the rat trapped in the room with no escape. Finally, the rat becomes frenzied and resorts to violence to protect itself from Bigger and Buddy. "The rat squeaked and turned and ran in a narrow circle, looking for a place to hide; it leaped again past Bigger and scurried on dry rasping feet to one side of the box and then to the other, searching for the hole. Then it turned and reared upon its hind legs" (Wright 4). Initially, the rat is shown as helpless, with no intent to hurt Bigger. The rat's fight for its survival becomes so desperate, however, that it leaps at Bigger's pant leg in an attempt to protect itself.
Bigger, like the rat, finds himself trapped and frenzied whe...
... middle of paper ...
...Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1985.
Fishburn, Katherine. Richard Wright's Hero: The Faces of a Rebel-Victim. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1977.
Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. and K. A. Appiah, eds. Richard Wright: Critical Perspectives Past and Present. New York: Amistd, 1993.
Hakutani, Yoshinobu, ed. Critical Essays on Richard Wright. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1982.
Joyce, Joyce Ann. Richard Wright's Art of Tragedy. Iowa City: U of Iowa Press, 1986.
Kinnamon, Keneth, ed. New Essays on Native Son. New York: Cambridge UP, 1990.
Macksey, Richard and Frank E. Moorer, eds. Richard Wright: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1984.
Rampersad, Arnold, ed. Richard Wright: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1995.
Wright, Richard. Native Son. New York: Harper 1989.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- In Native Son, Richard Wright uses characterization and symbolism to underscore his theme of how American institutionalized oppression of blacks creates human tragedy for those oppressed. Yet, the novel is not an attempt to merit our sympathy or empathy for the condition of repressed blacks, it is to illustrate how the nihilistic attitude of blacks like Bigger Thomas is the direct result of white repression of differences in non-white cultures. In other words, Bigger's only option is death because the society which has created him has given him nothing else to care about, nothing he can call his own, no chance to explore any of his potential.... [tags: Native Son Essays]
1514 words (4.3 pages)
- Native Son is a critically acclaimed, best-selling novel by Richard Wright (1908-1960) that tells the story of Bigger Thomas, an impoverished and uneducated black man. Bigger’s life in South Chicago (a predominantly African-American area) is miserable and he remains bitter and angry over his social condition – one that involves the constant burden of being black in a white man’s world. He is convinced that he has no control over his life and that he will never be anything more than a low-wage laborer due to his skin color.... [tags: RIchard Wright, Novel Analysis]
1257 words (3.6 pages)
- Native son by Richard wright is a novel revolving around a young African American named bigger Thomas and his life working for the Daltons family. In a situation caught between faith and death, bigger must decide what he has to do to prove his innocence or fight after being caught in the midst of a violent act. “He knew that the moment he allowed himself to feel to its fullness how he live the shame and misery of their lives, he would be swept out of himself with fear and despair.” This quote describes the situation bigger and his family are in.... [tags: daltons family, african american]
780 words (2.2 pages)
- Symbols: the basis of all literary works. Without symbols books become boring and lifeless. Symbols assist the reader in discovering a deeper meaning. In Richard Wright’s novel, Native Son, symbols are used to show death, faith and living in a white run world. In the first book, readers are introduced to the rat. Bigger is shown attempting to destroy the rat. When the rat is deceased, he appears as a “flat black body… [with] two yellow tusks” (6). With this death, Bigger’s murder streak starts.... [tags: Literary Analysis, Native Son]
721 words (2.1 pages)
- In Richard Wright’s Native Son, Bigger Thomas attempts to gain power over his environment through violence whenever he is in a position to do so. The first expression of Bigger’s desire for power comes in the opening scene of the book in which Wright sets the precedent for Bigger’s actions. In the opening scene, the Thomas family discovers a black rat in their apartment, and it is Bigger’s task to take care of it. Bigger kills the rat, and through this action, he asserts control over the disturbance of his environment.... [tags: Richard Wright, Native Son, Literary Analysis]
1245 words (3.6 pages)
- Richard Wright's Native Son Richard Wright's novel, Native Son, stirred up a real controversy by shocking the sensibilities of both black and white America. The protagonist, Bigger Thomas, is from the lowest ring of society, and Wright does not blend him with any of the romantic elements common to literary heroes. Bigger is what one expects him to be because of the social conditions in which he lives: he is sullen, frightened, violent, hateful, and resentful. He is the product of the condemnation the “white” society has brought upon him.... [tags: Richard Wright Native Son]
816 words (2.3 pages)
- 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.... [tags: Native Son Essays]
647 words (1.8 pages)
- Native Son by Richard Wright Who is the victim in a prejudiced civilization. The dominant group or the minority. "Native Son," a novel by Richard Wright, focuses on the effects of racism on the oppressors and the oppressed.... [tags: Wright Native Son]
1582 words (4.5 pages)
- Blindness in Richard Wright's Native Son Does it seem sometimes as if people are ignorant to other feelings. Have you ever had a friend get away with something or toy with someone's thoughts to benefit him or her. Similar types of blindness occur in the novel Native Son by Richard Wright (1940). The story starts in the Great Depression with a poor black family waking up to a foot long rat in their one room apartment. Bigger, the main character, and his younger brother Buddy narrowly kill it without bodily harm.... [tags: Native Son Essays]
854 words (2.4 pages)
- Sympathy for a Murderer in Richard Wright's Native Son In Native Son, Richard Wright introduces Bigger Thomas, a liar and a thief. Wright evokes sympathy for this man despite the fact that he commits two murders. Through the reactions of others to his actions and through his own reactions to what he has done, the author creates compassion in the reader towards Bigger to help convey the desperate state of Black Americans in the 1930’s. The simplest method Wright uses to produce sympathy is the portrayal of the hatred and intolerance shown toward Thomas as a black criminal.... [tags: Native Son Essays]
1011 words (2.9 pages)