Native Son Study Guide

Native Son Study Guide

Original title:
Native Son
August 2nd 2005 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published 1940)
Chicago, Illinois (United States) Illinois (United States)
ISBN 006083756X (ISBN13: 9780060837563)

Richard Wright wrote “Native Son” in 1940. It is a very strong, tragic and emotional novel about the position of African Americans in the society. It talks about the existential gap between the nation, it describes the wish for warmth and understanding, and it also deals with the inner monsters inside all of us.

How many times do we try to find excuses for somebody’s misbehaviors? It’s in human nature to judge, but it’s also in our nature to understand and forgive. And that’s what the novel is about. It talks about a poor African American boy who has made a lot of mistakes in his life and elaborates whether they could have been averted.

The protagonist of the story is Bigger Thomas, he is 20 years old and lives in a poor neighborhood of Chicago. Waking up to seeing rats in the apartment, being told from the childhood that you aren’t worth anything, working for pennies for the man who keeps raising your rent – all this leads to anger and aggression that lives inside Bigger’s heart.

He and his friends from the gang have committed numerous robberies, and in trying to cover up his silly choices, Bigger accidentally murders his employer’s daughter. He then plays masterfully on the white community’s stereotypes against communists and blacks to avoid suspicion and even asks for the ransom. Caught in the feelings of fear of being exposed, remorse and hopelessness of his situation, he finally arrives at a conclusion that he’s done everything right. He and his lawyer realized that he couldn’t have avoided it.

“Native Son” is the text about how social environment influences whom we become. When people don’t have rights in the society, they claim them by disrupting the social norms. Bigger’s thoughts are confused and illogical, and it’s daunting for the readers to discover such an attitude towards life. It’s not a book about who is guilty and what to do – it’s a book to open up your mind and perception of the ways society norms can influence people.

New Essays

Native Son Character Analysis

Native Son By Richard Wright Bigger Thomas, I believe, is neither the protagonist nor antagonist of Native Son. Richard Wright uses Bigger to show how the mindsets of blacks were psychologically altered due to racism in the 1930’s. Bigger’s life was lived in constant anger and fear towards the...

The Color Red in Native Son by Richard Wright

The Color Red in Native Son Introduction * In Native Son, Richard Wright uses the motif of the color red to represent violence, anger, fear, desire, and Communism, thus conveying Bigger’s fear and hatred of whites. * “He watched her through the rear mirror as he drove; she was kind of pretty, but...

Native Son Theme Analysis

In his novel, Native Son, Richard Wright reveals his major theme of the Black population in America in the 1930’s. In the opening scene of the novel, Wright introduces his condemning message towards the ugliness of American racism and the social oppression of Blacks in his time. The opening scene...

Native Son

SXSX Native Son Topic #2 Throughout the novel, Native Son, Bigger is seen as being a sympathetic character by many readers. “He hated his family because he [Bigger] knew that they were suffering and that he was powerless to help them” (Wright 10). This shows how Bigger acknowledges his family...

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