Native Son

Searching for Identity: An Analysis of Richard Wright's "Native Son" and Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man" 12th Grade

Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison, both African American authors active in the middle of the twentieth century, took on the challenge of exploring and exposing the adversity that African Americans faced through their writing. They brought to light the issues of discrimination and the negative effects that racism was having on not only African Americans but society as a whole. Wright and Ellison, in their respective novels Native Son and Invisible Man, depict African American protagonists who are restricted by racism and struggle to develop their own identities in the early twentieth century, resulting in unwanted identities and, occasionally, a lack of identity itself.

Wright and Ellison both had similar encounters with racism that greatly impacted their writing. They were both natives of the southern United States and moved north to urban areas. Wright first moved from Mississippi to Memphis, then to Chicago, and later New York where he met Ellison, who had moved from Oklahoma (“Richard Wright”). When they met in New York, Wright served as a mentor to Ellison and helped him to grow as a writer (“Ralph Ellison” 1516). Wright’s influence on Ellison is evident through the similarities in their writing styles and content. They both...

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