The Necessity of Violence in Native Son by Richard Wright Essay

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In Native Son, Richard Wright uses characterization and symbolism to underscore his theme of how American institutionalized oppression of blacks creates human tragedy for those oppressed. Yet, the novel is not an attempt to merit our sympathy or empathy for the condition of repressed blacks, it is to illustrate how the nihilistic attitude of blacks like Bigger Thomas is the direct result of white repression of differences in non-white cultures. In other words, Bigger's only option is death because the society which has created him has given him nothing else to care about, nothing he can call his own, no chance to explore any of his potential. Thus, he turns to violence as an expression of identity which is what his reaction to…show more content…
One fact that amply demonstrates the absurdity of white racist America is that fact that, when Native Son was successfully published, a Hollywood producer "wanted to change Bigger Thomas to a white man; but Wright refused. Wright himself played Bigger in a motion-picture version of Native Son made in Argentina in 1951" (Biography 4). Like many black writers of his era, Wright became an ex-patriot in response to his frustration with America's racist political and social institutions. There is no redemption possible for Bigger because despite any capacity he has for success, he is never given a chance to fulfill it in a racist society. He is a tree that cannot grow in Brooklyn, so-to-speak, because the concrete in which the child is expected to grow is not only hard and lacking nourishment, but it blatantly refuses to give root to a "black" tree. The environment in which Bigger must form his perspective of the world and try to grow is one infested with rats, with a lack of water, where food is scarce, money even scarcer and one that sends Bigger a constant message that he is worthless, without dignity, and wholly lacking in intelligence or creativity. In fact, the scene in the beginning of the story when Bigger is fighting a huge rat is symbolic of two things. The first is the most obvious, that Bigger must fight daily for the most meager lifestyle
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