Portrayal of Oppression in Native Son: Analytical Essay
The behavior expressed in Richard Wright’s Native Son provides us with a basis to realize our own faults in today’s society. The rampant prejudice within the novel’s society led to the mental and emotional shifting within the black community, seen specifically in Bigger Thomas. The racist precedents set in the past determine our actions today, and if anything, Native Son was an opportunity to realize that it’s time to change those precedents. Fear of change and fear of persecution cause acts of desperation within a system of oppression. External justification from historical, systematic hate generates that oppression and injustice throughout society.
Oppression fundamentally stems from the human urge for control and power. We want to keep the power we hold over other people, and will do anything we can to control what we can. This constant battle to see who comes out on top is what gives entire communities the mindset that they are fundamentally superior, because they are the ones who have been winning the battle for centuries. The oppressive systems in place in our society today come from the systematic dehumanization that this country was built upon, and it stays in place because of our unwillingness to see beyond our own dilemmas. In Native Son, the Chicago described is one with a blatant imbalance of power between the white and black communities, notably mentioned in the environment as a physical separation of the two communities. This separation leads to each community having serious misconceptions about the other, altering the mindset of each because of centuries of precedent, evidential in the text, “Why did he and his folks have to live like this? What had they ever done? Perhaps they had not done anything. Maybe they had to live this way precisely because none of them in all their lives had ever done anything, right or wrong, that mattered much.” (Wright 105). This mindset that Bigger has is detrimental to his entire community, as well as himself. He truly believes that all of the black people within Chicago, including his own family, deserves to live in conditions harmful to their health. This separation within communities is dangerous to the mental and emotional state of those being harmed by the separation.
Bigger Thomas has been mentally and emotionally shaped by the environment around him, clearly seen in lines such as, “He stood up in the middle of the cell floor and tried to see himself in relation to other men, a thing he had always feared to try to do, so deeply stained was his own mind with the hate of others for him.” (Wright 361). Bigger has been so fundamentally molded by the conditions that he grew up in that he truly believes he is worth less than the white people in his city. “He had no right to feel that, no right to forget that he was to die, that he was black, a murderer; he had no right to forget that, not even for a second. Yet he had.” (Wright 360). These quotes clearly show that the hate he has been given, the hate that has shaped him, has ingrained itself so deeply in his mind that he now believes that he is not deserving of equal treatment. Bigger’s fear of persecution and hate lead him to commit acts he may not have committed otherwise, such as the murder of Mary Dalton. This systematic oppression that he has grown up in has critically shifted his view on the world and his view on himself.
Nearly every act within Native Son was an act of desperation, subconsciously caused by the standardized injustices within this society. From Bigger to the Daltons, every choice was indicative of a deeper meaning – a desperate desire to prove themselves. The imbalance of power within this Chicago community was the cause of this desperation, leading the characters to believe that they either had to protect their power or protect themselves from persecution and hate. Specifically, Bigger killing Mary Dalton was his chance to prove his worth in some way or another – to prove that he could leave a mark on the white community that had so wrongfully oppressed him, seen in the passage, “His crime seemed natural; he felt that all of his life had been leading to something like this… There was in him a kind of terrified pride… It was as though he had an obscure but deep debt to fulfil to himself in accepting the deed.” (Wright 106). Bigger felt as if his whole life, the life in which he had been treated as nothing other than inferior, had been leading to a course of action that would deeply affect the white community. On the other side of the spectrum, the white community was so desperate to see Bigger put to death for this murder, that they blinded themselves to the underlying issue within their society, seen in the passage, “’Kill ‘im!’ ‘Lynch ‘im!’” (Wright 270). In this passage, the angry white mob is rooting for the police to kill Bigger on the spot, without considering their own blind hate and the environmental aspects that led Bigger to murder. Both the white and the black communities have a fear of the other, leading to the series of desperate acts that readers can see throughout the novel.
The patterns found within Native Son are applicable to the world we live in today, and still decidedly present. The world around us supports a system of oppression designed so that those without power feel helpless. In order to tear down this oppressive societal structure, we have to be willing to study the underlying issues, and realize the faults within ourselves. The mindset of different communities within our world have been established by centuries of precedent, just as both the white and black communities in Bigger’s world are defined by misguided notions of hate for the other. This human instinct to desire power is what ultimately causes our own downfall. Bigger’s desire to be seen as an individual and to leave his mark on the white community is what lead to the murder of Mary Dalton, and Bigger’s death sentence. To break the cycle of this struggle for power over one another, we have to be self-aware of our actions and the underlying implications of those actions. We should not strive to be like that “white looming mountain of hate,” (Wright 361), or that “sea of white faces… that ocean of boiling hate,” (Wright 265). We should strive to have our own individual thoughts instead of following the outdated precedents set for us in the past, urging us to become a faceless mass of blind anger. We should realize our own individuality, just as Bigger realized his.
Systems of oppression are caused by those in power staying in power because of past precedents, which generates an altered mindset in both parties affected, causing a series of injustices throughout society. The lessons recognized when Native Son was published are still lessons that are applicable today. We face the same urges of blind hate and blind accusations today as they did back then, it’s simply not as widely recognized because we are no longer physically segregated as a society. There is no doubt in my mind that Richard Wright accomplished the goal he set out to achieve: to prompt self-reflection in all members of his audience. As much as Bigger is a product of his society, we are a product of ours. Without self-realization of the implications of our actions and words, history will repeat itself, and it will be to the detriment of all.
This essay is about racism, the most important theme of the most violent and revolutionary works in the American canon, Native Son, written by the African – American writer, Richard Wright. Native Son, one of the most famous works of Richard Wright deals with the effects of the Great Migration, a historical event in which millions of African Americans left the oppressive political and social conditions of the South. This book is about Bigger Thomas, a young African American man...
The beginning of Native Son we are introduced to Bigger, the main character in this novel by Richard Wright, he is a 20-year-old who lives with his family in a one-bedroom apartment, in the South Side of Chicago. During the beginning of this book, Bigger needs a job, and sets out to find something but has trouble finding the motivation. Soon Bigger finds a great job paying 25 dollars a week which is a considerably large amount for that time....
“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...
Introduction This study is about representation of women in the African American Literature as written in Native son and The Colour purple. African-American literature has undergone a revolutionary change from Phillies Wheatley, the first African-American poet to publish her works, to Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Walter Mosley, Alice Walker, Gloria Naylor, and Paule Marshall, the contemporary top Black writers. Phillies Wheatley, who was sold as a slave child to America, “the child was a victim of the largest involuntary human...
The scope of the study is concerned about the Representation of Women in the Color Purle and Native Son in the African American Literature. The study is limited to the representation of African American women in Native son and the colour purple. The time that the researcher has to conduct this research is so limited. Therefore, the study will be limited to 2 novels “Native son and The Colour purple. This would have been more enhanced and wider if more...
This study is about representation of women in the African American Literature as written in Native son and The Colour purple. African-American literature has undergone a revolutionary change from Phillies Wheatley, the first African-American poet to publish her works, to Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Walter Mosley, Alice Walker, Gloria Naylor, and Paule Marshall, the contemporary top Black writers. Phillies Wheatley, who was sold as a slave child to America, “the child was a victim of the largest involuntary human migration...
Bigger Thomas is African-American from Chicago who is convicetd of the rape and murder of a white women. Bigger Thomas is also a man who lives in poverty and is uneducated. It’s the 1930’s in Chicago and a family of four is living in a cramped apartment on the south side in a neighborhood known as “The Black Belt”. Bigger’s mother insists he take the job with Daltons, a wealthy white family who have offered him a way to live...
The creation of Big Boy is only to show how much he hated to live a life like that. A life where the blacks are lynched for small offences and their body parts taken as souvenirs by the whites and kept in their houses or shops only to show that they are the superior people. So Big Boy who is a revolutionary had to leave and the story Big Boy Leaves Home had to be written. Native Son is Richard...
The novel Native Son by Richard is set in Chicago during the 1930s. It follows the story of Bigger Thomas who is a 20-year-old African American. He lives in poverty with his family in the beggarly south side. Bigger needs to get a job to help support his family but he is self-centered. Bigger prefers to go to the pool house and smoke with his friends. Nevertheless, Bigger, goes to work for the Daltons. These novel reveals that the environment...
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