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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 the Mass Market Paperback edition.
So is told the story of Native Son's Bigger Thomas.
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 book is excellent in plot, descriptive writing, resolution and the author's ability to show his character to his audience.
It's a masterpiece and one fixed in time and place. Wright was a communist, which was a utopian experiment with it's own horrible outcome. Read morePublished 1 month ago by J. D. Curtis
This is an amazing book, a real page turner. I could not put it down until I was finished. Richard Wright is an amazing story teller, now one of my favorite writers. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Mikel
This was a powerful book that depicts America in the 1940's. It focuses on the life of Bigger Thomas, a young African-American man who's drowning in a sea of despair and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Alretha Thomas
Really enjoyed this book. Been meaning to read it for years. Best book I've read for truly explaining the toll poverty and being treated always as a second class citizen, can... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Lynette, San Mateo
Richard Wright's novel Native Son is set in 1930s Chicago and is about a young, black man who lived in an unfortunate time where blacks were woefully segregated and pushed down. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Elaina