Richard Wright was born on September 4, 1908, to a poor family on a plantation in Mississippi. His father was an illiterate sharecropper and his mother was a well-educated teacher. Due to his family’s poverty they were forced to move to Memphis. When Wright was five years old, his father left his family for another woman, and his mother was forced to leave her job as a school teacher and do domestic work to provide for her family. As Wright grew up, he became involved with the Communist Party, and in 1940 he published Native Son. This success of Wright’s book made the black community proud of him, but it also brought a lot of uncomfortable feelings. They felt that the main character, Bigger, portrayed a stereotypical, harsh, black man the
From the first pages of the novel, Bigger is associated with the color black. The most obvious is his skin color, as well as the fact that most of the action of the plot is located in the Black Belt of South Chicago. The Black
Richard Wright, wrote the fictional novel Native Son, using three intellectual forces, which include: Naturalism, Existentialism, and Communism. He uses these forces, along with racist ideology, to shape the life of a young black male, Bigger, living in the ‘Black Belt’ of Chicago in the 1940’s. Wright refers to the ‘Black Belt,’ as a ‘black world’ where violence is directed towards other American Americans, and warns that this violence will be aimed at white people. Bigger, is used to depict the criminal actions that come along with living in racial confinement under the fear of white people during this time.
Wright uses Bigger’s psychological corruption to send a message to the reader. It offers a new view on the underlying effects of racism on the black community of the time period. Wright creates Bigger from the diversity he saw throughout American society. “I made the discovery that Bigger Thomas was not black all the time; he was white, too, and there were literally millions of him, everywhere... I became conscious, at first dimly, and then later on with increasing clarity and conviction, of a vast, muddied pool of human life in America. It was as though I had put on a pair of spectacles whose power was that of an x-ray enabling me to see deeper into the lives of men. Whenever I picked up a newspaper, I 'd no longer feel that I was reading of the doings of whites alone (Negroes are rarely mentioned in the press unless they 've
As we read Native Son, Bigger’s resulting attitude toward the whites is a combination of anger and powerful fear. He fears the whites as an overpowering force that he cannot
In the beginning, when Bigger started working for the Dalton’s, he had to drive Mary Dalton, the daughter, to the University of Chicago. However, she wanted him to pick up her boyfriend, Jan, and head to a restaurant. When Bigger was in the car with Jan and Mary, “he was very conscious of his black skin...Jan and men like him” made Bigger feel insecure of who he was. (Wright 67) Even though Jan and Mary did not say anything that would insult his race, the presence of white people made him self-conscious. Being
Wrights depiction of Bigger through his use of figurative language techniques, reveals Bigger as an unstable and violent character, and to the reader Biggers character creates an uneasy
In Native Son, Wright employs Naturalistic ideology and imagery, creating the character of Bigger Thomas, who seems to be composed of a mass of disruptive emotions rather than a rational mind joined by a soul. This concept introduces the possibility that racism is not the only message of the novel, that perhaps every person would feel as isolated and alone as Bigger does were he trapped in such a vicious cycle of violence and oppression. Bigger strives to find a place for himself, but the blindness he encounters in those around him and the bleak harshness of the Naturalistic society that Wright presents the reader with close him out as effectively as if they had shut a door in his
The poverty the Bigger is forced into by Mr. Dalton causes him to become a hardened, cruel person. He describes how he sees white people in this quote, “Well, they own everything. They choke you off the face of the earth. They like God..." he swallowed, closed his eyes and sighed. "They don’t even let you feel what you want to feel.
The quotations points out the presupposed role of the violent black man; in that his violence is contained to the black community, and would not transcend to the upper class white people. It also presents the issue that by killing Mary; Bigger forgoes any sort of presumption about his abilities. So, Bigger’s ‘tingling sensation’ is,
According to the book Native Son, although Bigger is responsible for his own actions, his criminal behavior was a product of the environment in which he was raised and lived in. Bigger is a victim of racism; the society he lived in created the worst part of his victimization which transformed him to a person capable of furious violence, one who even craves such violence. The society Bigger has lived in destroyed his innocence by awakening terrible capabilities within him- capabilities that later enable him to murder people as well. Because power is intimately
Many of the interactions in the Native Son not only reveal more about the characters and their relationships’ with each other in the story, but also depict the social issues that Wright is critiquing. The relationship Bigger and Bessie is one of the central relationships in the story. Many characters in Native Son are shown in order to make a point about Bigger’s character, and Bessie’s presence to an extent does this. When Bigger is around his friends or family, he feels complex emotions towards them which are largely made up of hatred (9, 40-42). Even though Bigger says he loves his girlfriend, he really only uses her to be an accomplice in the ransom plan and, more importantly, he uses her body (204, 269-270). He even later admits to his
I personally think out of the three novels we read this semester, Bigger is more part of his historical context. I feel that if I was in Biggers’s shoes during the 1930’s during that historical period, it would have been very easy for me to fall into what Bigger did. Bigger was stuck in a system where only racism, crime, violence and injustice surrounded his world. He felt the only way he could continue living in a world where he would never be accepted, it was easier to create fear amongst white people.
He does explain that oppression and racism affected both whites the oppressors and blacks the oppressed. He also explains how a white like girl, befriended a black man, and that a lot of what happened was because of the lack of understanding of the others culture. Yet, I feel that Mr. Wright’s emphasis was more on the struggles that the African Americans endured during the 1930’s. I feel he felt that this oppression and racism affected them the most so he tends to favor their plight more than that of the whites. Wright uses this quote to express how Bigger felt, “To Bigger and his kind, white people were not really people: they were a sort of great natural force, like a stormy sky looming overhead or like a deep swirling river stretching suddenly at one’s feet in the dark.” (109) Wright does not downplay the suffering that they endured at the hands of the whites. He depicts their poverty, in Bigger’s case the cramped rat infested apartment his family lived in. Wright uses this quote to express the living conditions, "Gimme that skillet, Buddy," he asked quietly, not taking his eyes from the rat. Wright tells of some of their racial struggles and inequalities like not being able to be educated, being forced to live in areas that were not as good as those the whites lived in but still over paying for them. It reads “black people, even though they cannot get good jobs, pay twice as much rent as whites”(248) Wright also declares that Bigger was not even allowed a fair trial to defend himself even though he was guilty of what he had done because of this racism. The headlines “NEGRO RAPIST FAINTS AT INQUEST was featured in the Tribune and in the article, Bigger is described as looking “exactly like an ape with “exceedingly black skin” (279). Wright allows the reader to know that he feels this misguided oppression and racism shows that both races lost the realization that all men are
Richard Wright’s novel, Native Son, depicts the life of the general black community in Chicago during the 1930’s. Though African Americans had been freed from slavery, they were still burdened with financial and social oppression. Forced to live in small, unclean quarters, eat foods on the verge of going bad, and pay entirely too much for both, these people struggled not to be pressured into a dangerous state of mind (Bryant). All the while, they are expected to act subserviently before their oppressors. These conditions rub many the wrong way, especially Bigger Thomas, the protagonist of the story. Though everyone he is surrounded by is going through all the same things that he is, growing up poor and uneducated has made Bigger angry at the whole world. You can see this anger in everything he does, from his initial thoughts to his final actions. Because of this, Bigger Thomas almost seems destined to find trouble and meet a horrible fate. Wright uses these conventions of naturalism to develop Bigger’s view of the white community(). With all of these complications, Bigger begins to view all white people as an overwhelming force that drags him to his end. Wright pushes the readers into Bigger’s mind, thoroughly explaining Bigger’s personal decay. Even Wright himself says that Bigger is in fact a native son, just a “product of American culture and the violence and racism that suffuse it” (Wright).