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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 this novel uneven at times. The description about race in America was really fantastic. In addition the contrast between capitalism and communism was interesting as well. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Jonathan Cantor
I had to read this book for a lit class, and I enjoyed it. It turned out to be a page turner. Glad my professor made it a requirement.Published 15 days ago by Aly
A must read for all Americans Black and White and everyone else. What took place 50 years ago continues to be true today.Published 23 days ago by boomerpsyc
Richard Wright examines the psyche of a Black Man intimidated by his surroundings but too prideful to admit it. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Anthony Patton
This classic cautionary tale is a tense, graphic read that gives insights into the race issue in the US in the 1930s and the damage it does to both whites and blacks. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Liane
Loved the begginning. It started to drag.i had to force myself through. Great storyline. Wasn't my favorite though.Published 2 months ago by k. hunt