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Native Son (Perennial Classics) Paperback – August 2, 2005
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A more compelling story than Native Son has not been written in the 20th century by an American writer. That is not to say that Richard Wright created a novel free of flaws, but that he wrote the first novel that successfully told the most painful and unvarnished truth about American social and class relations. As Irving Howe asserted in 1963, "The day Native Son appeared, American culture was changed forever. It made impossible a repetition of the old lies [and] brought out into the open, as no one ever had before, the hatred, fear and violence that have crippled and may yet destroy our culture."
Other books had focused on the experience of growing up black in America--including Wright's own highly successful Uncle Tom's Children, a collection of five stories that focused on the victimization of blacks who transgressed the code of racial segregation. But they suffered from what he saw as a kind of lyrical idealism, setting up sympathetic black characters in oppressive situations and evoking the reader's pity. In Native Son, Wright was aiming at something more. In Bigger, he created a character so damaged by racism and poverty, with dreams so perverted, and with human sensibilities so eroded, that he has no claim on the reader's compassion:
"I didn't want to kill," Bigger shouted. "But what I killed for, I am! It must've been pretty deep in me to make me kill! I must have felt it awful hard to murder.... What I killed for must've been good!" Bigger's voice was full of frenzied anguish. "It must have been good! When a man kills, it's for something... I didn't know I was really alive in this world until I felt things hard enough to kill for 'em. It's the truth..."Wright's genius was that, in preventing us from feeling pity for Bigger, he forced us to confront the hopelessness, misery, and injustice of the society that gave birth to him. --Andrew Himes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is also a great read for the would-be fiction writer. It's all here: plot, character, setting and gripping story telling that holds you to the end.
A must read.
Wright explores racism and its effects, not only on the oppressed, but also on the oppressors. Bigger, the oppressed, fails to see whites as individuals and stereotypes all as racist bigots who intend only to harm him. Of course, there are plenty of these individuals about, yet there are genuine decent whites who Bigger fails to see as human. On the other side, of course, is the systemic abuse of Blacks as they are forced to live into a small section of the South Side in decrepit ghettos. Remarkably, this is a step up from their sharecropping days in the Jim Crow South, where Bigger grew up. However, even those whites who deem themselves to be sympathetic to the "Colored" cause, such as the Daltons, are condescending and arrogant. The Daltons, typical guilty liberals, have contributed thousands to the NAACP, yet they indirectly control the real estate company that reaps the benefits of the segregated society and the artificially higher rents in the black tenements.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
More than a decade ago, I was supposed to read this novel for an African American Lit course. After Bigger's incident with Mary, I stopped reading the text. I was livid! Read morePublished 12 days ago by Amazon Customer
This was great. It's a classic for a reason. Didn't read it in school for some reason but I just adored it.Published 14 days ago by chicago mom of 2
It's an interesting story that represents what is still an issue in society now. It is a little mature, with some slightly graphic descriptions of violent acts being carried out. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Ahparayam White
Native Son was, for me a shock and a joy. Shocking because it seems very it seems as timely today in the twenty-first century as it was in the twentieth. Read morePublished 1 month ago by F. Andrews
I knew going in that this book would be disturbing, but I hoped it would be enlightening and help me better understand what race relations in that period of U.S. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jim Southard
This is an American classic. I can't believe I have not read it before.Published 2 months ago by Louis J. Goodman
This book transcends time...set in the 1930s and I'm reading it in 2016 and seeing the same similarities to this very day. Read morePublished 2 months ago by StylishCurvyGirl
It was very good book if I am yelling at the Character while I am reading. It really was a distrubing story for me to read.Published 2 months ago by Diane F Pechacek