Race and Oppression in the Novel 'Native Son'

3048 Words Jan 7th, 2018 12 Pages
The novel is, of course, about racism, but racism is such a pervasive element in the novel that it would be impossible to discuss racism as a single theme in Native Son. Instead, racism is a part of many of the themes of Native Son, a novel that explores the complexities of how racist beliefs, not simply personal beliefs, but also societal-level beliefs, impact the thoughts and behavior of people. One of the ways that racism changes people is that it leads people to the depersonalization and dehumanization of others. This is very evident in the novel Native Son. Throughout the novel, one sees white characters treating Bigger, not as an individual, but as a representation of his race. More importantly, it is critical to realize that these characters are not necessarily evil or misguided; instead, many of them consider themselves enlightened about the races and would even go so far as to state that they were attempting to help Bigger. However, they respond to Bigger merely as black, not as a man who is black. In addition, it is not only the white characters that allow racism to depersonalize their views of others. Bigger also allows his own racism to depersonalize his views of the characters in the book. Rather than seeing white people as individuals, he views them as part of an amorphous group of white people, which has some…

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