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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.
I found Wright's writing style to be captivating, and character descriptions were thorough.
The end gets a little preachy and long, but overall-- this is really a great book and I think it still has meaning in today's world.
This makes the reader feel sorry for Bigger and allows the reader to understand the effects of racism.
Brilliantly composed novel of African-Americans and the struggle of oppression, fear, and racism in the 1930's. They were faced with poverty, hate, and discrimination daily. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Keola
This book is not what you think! It doesn't have a hero that you will love and root for, it doesn't have a happy ending. This book is painfully realistic. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Briana
Richard Wright has a beautiful way with words and making each scene come to life in your head. "Native Son" is a haunting story of Bigger Thomas, a young black man, growing... Read morePublished 6 days ago by Antonio Cortes
This book is a great book that shows how hard prejudiced was back in the day before civil rights. This story has a few eye opening and a bit graphic twists but expresses a great... Read morePublished 6 days ago by Tanner Shigeta
Native son was one of the longest but most thrilling books that I've read in a long time. I read this book for one of my English classes, and I honestly couldn't put it down. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Jon
Richard Wright’s Native Son operates at the level of a feverish realism—informed by the particular details of racism in the Chicago of the pre-war period, this tremendously... Read morePublished 10 days ago by Steiner
Trashy book. Required reading for school but not a great story for kids to read.Published 12 days ago
Richard Wright excellently exposes the stark racial divisions of the 1930s Chicago Black Belt in his period piece Native Son. Read morePublished 20 days ago by John Barber