Representations of Women in Native Son

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Representations of Women in Native Son In his most famous novel, Native Son, Richard Wright's female characters exist not as self-sufficient, but only in relation to the male figures of authority that surround them, such as their boyfriends, husbands, sons, fathers, and Bigger Thomas, the protagonists. Wright presents the women in Native Son as meaningless without a male counterpart, in which the women can not function as an independent character on their own. Although Wright depicts clearly the oppression of Blacks, he appears unconscious of creating female characters who regardless of race, are exploited and suppressed. Their sole purpose in the novel is to further the story by putting Bigger in new and more dangerous situations by…show more content…
A headstrong young woman, she defies her parents by dating a Communist, cares about social issues, and is personally interested in improving the lives of black Americans. Wright gives little information about whether or not her political convictions are solidly grounded or just enjoys following the excitement of her radical boyfriend. However, Wright's portrayal of communism in relation to a young white female allows for a slight spread of Communist propaganda. She is likeable and her desire to help blacks like Bigger is certainly sincere. Nevertheless, she is unaware of Bigger's feelings, and, despite her good intentions, she acts in a racist manner, which speaks of white women as a whole and their blindness to understand exactly what it means to struggle as a black American. Though Mary's intentions are essentially good, she gives no thought to the fact that Bigger might be surprised and confused by such unprecedented treatment from the wealthy white daughter of his employer. She treats Bigger not as an individual whose friendship must be earned, but as a representative of the black race. Mary simply assumes that Bigger will embrace her friendship, as she seems to think her political views guarantee her right to his companionship. Because the character of Bigger Thomas is so central to Native Son, Mary is important mainly for her effect on Bigger. While she means only to help him, her whiteness and wealth make Bigger
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