Native Son

In Black and White: Native Son 11th Grade

In his novel “Native Son,” author Richard Wright depicts the struggles of Bigger Thomas, whose life reaches a major turning point after he kills Mary Dalton. The difference between Bigger’s dreams and the “illusion” of reality plays a significant role throughout the novel. Bigger’s dreams and innermost desires symbolize the longing of African Americans as a whole; however, they are oppressed by the reality of their situation. This crisis enhances Richard Wright’s overall message of the novel. His use of this conflicting theme in addition to innocence and brutality and other points of contrast subtly coincide with the central theme of the racial strife experienced between two very different worlds.

The fact that Wright compares Bigger’s life to a nightmare or dream during intense moments supports the notion that Bigger’s perception of life lies on the line where reality and illusions merge together. In addition, the coma-like state that Bigger seems to live in is existent from the birth of his crime to his death. For example, when Mrs. Dalton walks in on Bigger alone with Mary, a terror seizes him as though “he were falling from a great height in a dream”(85). When he wakes up the day after Mary’s murder, he remembers as if it...

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