Native Son- Critical Analysis

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Jazmin Vera 3/28/2012 AML-4607 Professor Heather Russell Racism and the Oppressed Black Man—Bigger Thomas In 20th Century African-American Literature, the students were instructed to write a critical analysis on one of five texts reviewed throughout the course. This paper will provide an analytical approach on the concept of race and identity as reflected in, Richard Wright’s, Native Son. Bigger Thomas’ instinct for survival plays a key role for the reasons behind his actions in this novel. Was it mere survival instinct that jolted Bigger to murder? Or did he, as he mentioned— “kill for something”? Whether the instinct was survival or “for something”, Bigger was driven to murder and showed little regret for his actions.…show more content…
When Wright wrote Native Son, the cultural bias against African-Americans was at its peak during this period in time. The treatment endured by this culture caused many to see the “white man” as untrustworthy and evil. While blacks were forced to live in cramped quarters, the white population lived a more abundant lifestyle simply because of the color of their skin. After years of such treatment, culturally, it was an acceptable practice to treat blacks as savages, or commonly referred to in the book as “apes”. Prior to the first murder, Bigger admits to being ashamed of his “black skin” and the narrator states: “He felt he had no physical existence at all right then; he was something he hated, the badge of shame which he knew was attached to his black skin. It was a shadowy region, a No Man’s land, the ground that separated the white world from the black that he stood upon.” (Wright 67). Culturally, the segregation of the whites and blacks clearly identified whose culture was important and whose was worthless. Throughout the novel the author exemplifies the way in which racism forces blacks into a state of mind where they are unworthy of equivalent rights; such as Bigger’s state of mind when he is alone in Ms. Dalton’s room. When Mary’s blind mother enters the room, Bigger’s survival instinct arises and supersedes his rationale. While Bigger’s initial intentions may have been harmless,
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