Native Son

Native Fear: Richard Wright’s Native Son

Fear is a common emotional thread woven deep within the fabric of mankind. It drives our actions, dictates our beliefs and sometimes, as in the case of Bigger Thomas, mandates the type of person we become. An old adage states that the single greatest source of human fear is the unknown; we are most afraid of what we cannot predict given our limited ability of foresight. Bigger Thomas was a gross exception to this theory. What Bigger was most scared of, more than anything in the world, was the inexorable certainty of his future. Bigger feared that as a young black male living on Chicago’s South Side his life course was inalterable. For this, he dreaded his own fate: the inevitable outcome of a life constrained by social forces determined by a billowing and intangible oppressor. The tragedy of Bigger was a three-part progression. Imprisoned by a congenital situation, set on a rigid pathway and thrust into an awful fate, Bigger was born with the very death sentence he would officially receive twenty years later.

The Great White Force

In the novel’s introduction, Wright called Bigger a “dispossessed and disinherited man” who “live[d] amid the greatest possible plenty on earth” yet was locked within a separate, dystopic substratum...

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