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Analysis of Oppressions of Black People in Native Son

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“Native son” by Richard Wright is an informative novel of the oppression black people faced, specifically living in Chicago in the 1930s. Bigger Thomas was a young African American ;Bigger was forced to suffer the effects and social conditions of the enormous oppression over African Americans due to the racism of people in the 1930s. The oppression applied to African Americans is based on the concepts of their race, class, and gender which Bigger was a big candidate for all these classifications.

Bigger Thomas was a poor lower class, uneducated, twenty-year-old black man who got a job working for a rich white family as a chauffeur. We gain the first insight of what Biggers initial thoughts on white people and the mark they left on him psychologically while he’s sitting in the movie theaters contemplating on his new job. “Was what he had heard about rich white people really true? Was he going to work for people like you saw in the movies…? He looked at Trader Horn unfold and saw pictures of naked black men and women whirling in wild dances” Bigger depicts his thoughts on rich white people as movie like characters living in a fantasy that bigger could only imagine and blacks as wild savages as if they were from a jungle.

The psychological effect brought by the oppression of African Americans have left a major impact on their thoughts of themselves and how they are inferior in comparison to whites with the constant racial propaganda which bigger has faced all throughout his life. The name Native SonPerfectly represents Bigger as his life in Chicago living in America has filled his head with what the basic African American is thought to be in the current American culture where people think of them as “Just another black ignorant negro”.

Bigger has always been a lower class American as he was black and wasn’t skilled or educated and was only forced to work low paying jobs. Poverty has been a reoccurring cycle for Biggers family and has led to the realization of hopeless due to the racism in the 1930’s. The oppression has lead bigger to have nothing to look forward to; Gus informed him about having a job flying planes only “if you wasn’t black and if you had some money and if they’d let you go to that aviation school, you could fly a plane” . What Gus tells him is just a reality check to the oppressed life he has is if you are poor and black. The despair of not having a way to be something and being forced to do only what the whites let you do damages Bigger and leaves him the perceptions of anger and fear toward white people.

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Anger and Fear are the sole feeling and reactions that Biggers has due to being oppressed and his actions mirror this thought throughout the novel. Once he lands the job of being a chauffeur, his first task was to take Mary Dalton to see her boyfriend Jan who was a communist, though the problem comes when Jan and Mary tell Bigger to go to the restaurant and Bigger was left with no choice but to take them their due to fear of not obeying with them and losing his job or worse in both scenarios. After going to the restaurant, they all end up getting drunk and things start taking a turn for the worse for obeying their commands all due to the fear imposed by whites.

Bigger than takes both of them into the car and drives them back to Mr. Daltons house. Once he takes Mary to her room, Bigger accidentally kills Mary while smothering her in a pillow because Mr. Daltons blind wife was walking and noticing a black man in her daughters’ room would lead to losing his job and maybe even worse. The death of Mary was all due to the cause of Fear imposed by the racial injustice of blacks against whites which was the core principle of what lead to her death. Once she died, he tries to burn her and frames Jan because the thought of a black man killing a white woman was something impossible and used that racial prejudice to make Mr. Dalton believe it was him and he bought it.

Now that Bigger has killed Mary, when he was disposing the body, he shows a morbidly excitement racing through him. Bigger saw Mary and saw that her “..head hung limply on the newspapers, the curly black hair dragging about in blood. He whacked harder, but the head would not come off… He saw a hatchet. Yes!” This gruesome scene depicts that he wasn’t sad but excited to do these things to a white woman. What we have seen from bigger has all changed showing how he’s not pure of heart and an innocent man or a victim of harsh views as it seems. Being able to rebel and be the savage beast that white people think of was finally true due to that the unbearable propaganda of black fake actions thrown to the people. Racism had completely changed Bigger and finally had enough, Mary’s corpse ended up being the way bigger expressed all his hatred and fear that he had of whites and the enormous weight he had of all the oppression in his life.

Finally, Gender has also been a big hidden point in Native Son, with a reoccurring theme of the difference of men and woman that lead to the enhancement of oppression towards African Americans. Woman throughout Native Son have been exploited and have stayed very silent and easily obedient to white people where black woman will work in exactly what white people want and without much regard of the oppressions. Vera, the sister of Bigger has been a big representation of how woman tend to express more of a domestic lifestyle. Vera goes to a sewing class and wants bigger to stop putting himself in dangerous events . This shows how much more passive black woman are and just like Vera, most likely do feminine style type jobs like sewing and household jobs and set much less bold goals for themselves because of the limiting life black people can live.

Men also living by these harsh social rules but like Bigger and Gus, they try to streak out and talk about getting better jobs; Bigger’s jobs are riskier and is the chauffeur for the Dalton’s but also has a past of thievery . The racial difference between genders are obviously similar in the oppressive force of white people, but woman show a greater result of being domestic when it comes to complying to the rules and not streaking out of the set norms for African Americans as much as men do. Black women and White women seem to be opposites as the first thing Mary wants to do is to put Bigger in a dangerous situation in which makes Bigger comply to these things she wanted. The lack of oppression makes white women more capable to do what they want and makes Mary and Vera different due to race. Gender and oppression show a greater force towards black women and slightly less to men but they both have fear of white people and their injustice which impact females more in regard to genders.

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Analysis of Oppressions of Black People in Native Son. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2023, from
“Analysis of Oppressions of Black People in Native Son.” Edubirdie, 27 Dec. 2022,
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Analysis of Oppressions of Black People in Native Son [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 27 [cited 2023 May 26]. Available from:
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