The Alarm Clock That Opens Richard Wright

1979 Words8 Pages
The alarm clock that opens Richard Wright’s 1940 classic Native Son was not only a wakeup call to the nation, but to the American Communist Party: an institution that Wright supported, despite its own shortcomings in advocating for the rights of Black Americans. Throughout the novel, Wright depicts Communist Party members Jan Erlone and Boris Max, as well as sympathiser Mary Dalton as individuals that care on some level for Bigger, but their efforts are misguided. Jan and Mary, who both advocate for racial equality, are oblivious of Bigger’s feelings throughout Book One. The Communist Party is unable to prevent Bigger from being executed. In the final portion of the novel, Bigger’s revelation and state of inner peace does not come from the party’s failed attempts to save him Instead, Wright places that agency with the individual, albeit with some help from liberal whites. Max, who represents Bigger during the murder trial, rejects Bigger’s self-realization. Wright suggests that battles with the outside world can be engaged, Black Americans must deal with the internal struggles they face. The Communist Party is a well-intentioned organization with the fatal flaw that its liberal white members will never be able to relate to Bigger and other Black Americans or the realities they face daily. Early in the work, Wright establishes the American Communist Party as a concerned and idealistic organization unable to work within the circumscribed realities of Black life. Literature

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