Native Son

Evaluation of Native Son by Richard Wright

Essay Prompt:

Writers often highlight the values of a culture or society by using characters who are alienated from that culture or society because of gender, race, class or creed. Discuss Bigger Thomas as such a character and show how his alienation reveals the surrounding society's assumptions and moral values.

Essay:

In Richard Wright's breakthrough novel, Native Son, Wright introduces a figure familiar to 1930s America - the lone man backed into a corner by discrimination and misunderstanding. Frustrated by racism and the limited opportunities afforded black men in society, Bigger Thomas strikes out in a futile attempt to transgress the boundaries and limits of his position. Through the estrangement of Bigger Thomas, many of the values and morals of the culture in which he lived are brought to light.

Immediately in this novel the revealing of these societal assumptions takes place.

"Was what he had heard about rich white people really true? Was he going to work for people like you saw in the movies...?"

This passage from Book One appears as Bigger sits in the movie theater, thinking about the possibilities for his new job as the Daltons' chauffeur. He has just seen the newsreel about Mary and has decided...

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