Richard Wright 's Native Son

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Richard Wright’s book, Native Son, is considered one of the pioneers of African-American literature within mainstream America (Ann Rayson). The book follows Bigger Thomas’s journey through self-realization, while exposing the line of racism and its effects in 1930s Chicago. Yet, for an African-American narrative, the story lacks one key character, a strong woman. The women Wright includes in his story are only there as a tool to better shape Bigger’s, or another man’s, character. While the lack of any strong, female character could be based on Richard Wright’s own life, his presentation of Mrs. Thomas, Vera, Mrs. Dalton, Peggy, Mary, and Bessie all lack the characteristics required to fulfill the strong female lead that African-American literature demands. Despite of the reasoning behind justification or condemnation for Wright’s characters, when considering Wright’s life it is clear that a strong female character was missing. Past criticisms of Native Son have normalized Bigger’s extreme violence and commodification towards women, given Bigger’s character. In “How Bigger was Born” Wright even argues that all characters are portrayed exclusively as seen from Bigger’s perspective (Wright, xxxi). Literary critics and feminist challenge this justification based upon Wright’s authority as the author. They argue instead that “If read as the negative polarity of the text, this process of male reification and appropriation pervades the work.” (France, 414). Every woman in the

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