Native Son

Introduction

Native Son (1940) is a novel by American author Richard Wright. The novel tells the story of 20-year-old Bigger Thomas, a black American youth living in utter poverty in a poor area on Chicago's South Side in the 1930s.

While not apologizing for Bigger's crimes, Wright portrays a systemic inevitability behind them. Bigger's lawyer makes the case that there is no escape from this destiny for his client or any other black American, since they are the necessary product of the society that formed them and told them since birth who exactly they were supposed to be. "No American Negro exists", James Baldwin once wrote, "who does not have his private Bigger Thomas living in his skull." Frantz Fanon discusses this feeling in his 1952 essay "L'Expérience Vécue du Noir", or "The Fact of Blackness". "In the end", writes Fanon, "Bigger Thomas acts. To put an end to his tension, he acts, he responds to the world's anticipation."


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