Organized Religion Exposed in Richard Wright’s Native Son Essay

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Organized Religion Exposed in Richard Wright’s Native Son


If the United States were to adopt a Communist government, it would be a better country. If Americans were to dispose of religion, they would be content people. If Richard Wright were to complete an assignment regarding the context of his novel, Native Son, the aforementioned arguments would be his focus. Wright, like all Marxists, believes that religion is “the opiate of the masses,” providing a surreal dream world with negative side effects. The representation of organized religion in Native Son supports Wright’s highly atheistic, Communistic views and his aspirations for the United States. By negatively using conventional religious symbols, such as the cross, prayer, God
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Although Bigger’s character refutes the concept of religion, Wright compares him to a
struggling Jesus Christ throughout the novel; society is to learn from Bigger’s example that capitalism is the core evil of the country, just as Christians look to Christ to delineate between sin and salvation. Bigger’s interactions with the Daltons mirror those of Jesus throughout the Stations of the Cross. Bigger’s initial visit to the Dalton home foreshadows his death because the setting mimics that of the crucifixion; “all at once…the sky [turns] black” (48), as it does while Jesus hangs upon the cross on Good Friday. When Bigger first visits the Dalton home, he “slip[s] back” (51) into his chair, just as Jesus falls while carrying his cross to Mount Calvary; this scene represents the persecution in store for Bigger by those families who, like the Daltons, consider themselves religious. Even during the murder and burning of the body of Mary Dalton, Bigger’s actions parallel Christ’s. Similar to Christ’s struggle with the cross upon his back, Bigger “stoop[s] and ca[tches] the strap” of Mary’s trunk and “carrie[s] it downstairs” (103) with her body inside, and the murder of Mary becomes Bigger’s “cross,” upon which he is executed.

Similarly, prayer reappears within Native Son in order to prove the unimportance of God
and the ineffectiveness of belief. The rat remains dead…