Novel "Native Son" by Richard Wright

Categories: Native Son

Setting

  • Chicago in the 1930’s during segregation
  • The small disgusting city apartments that Bigger and the rest of the black community live in versus the big suburban houses the Dalton’s live

Plot

  • Bigger goes to the pool house instead of the job interview
  • Almost robs Blum’s, a white man’s business, but due to fear, sabotages operation
  • Gets the job as a chauffeur at the Daltons, a rich white family.
  • Instead of driving Mary Dalton to school, he sneaks her out to see a Communist.

  • Too drunk to function, he carries her to her room
  • Accidently suffocates her trying to hide from Mrs. Dalton

Symbols

  • The Chair: page 47
  • Bigger’s relationship with the white community. He does not want to be apart of it, but is then sucked into it. He tries to get out of it, but is unable to.
  • Hate for Mary: page 54
  • The blacks in society were all generalized as how one acted, so he was scared because of the way she was acting, it was going to get him fired.

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The color white:

  • Everything in the Dalton house is white, describing their clothes, walls, and furniture to describe it as being pure, fancier, cleaner, more expensive than anything Bigger ever owned, showing the differences how blacks and whites are viewed.
  • Bigger goes from being a powerful, violent black man in the city to a timid and cautious inferiority in the Dalton’s presence.
  • He develops a positive relationship with Mrs. Dalton by relating her to his mother.

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  • Goes from a beat down rugged, small neighborhood in the city, to a clean, suburban neighborhood where all the white people lived.
  • In the first book of Native Son, Wright illustrates how the presence of racism in the time period affects the character and his life as illustrated by the contrast of the portrayal of blacks and whites, yet the supporters of the civil rights do not acknowledge as his own person and as a representative of the colored people.
  • The black community vs the white community
  • The slums, privileges, education difference, slang.
  • The white culture is dominant. Whites hold themselves higher than blacks, they constantly tear them down and prevent them from fighting back. Dalton’s/Communists still refer to blacks as “them and your people”.
  • The African Americans and Bigger specifically in the Dalton household are being marginalized.

Due to cultural segregation between whites and blacks, the African Americans develop an inauthentic and paranoid character with anger and resentment towards whites that further hurt their reputation.

Questions

  1. Why did Bigger feel the need to rob and not get an actual job?
  2. Why did Bigger feel the need to hide from Mrs. Dalton in Mary’s room?
  3. Why did the group feel the need to bring guns to rob Mr.Blum when they were not planning on using them and had never brought them before?
  4. How does Bigger’s views of communists parallel the white society’s views of the blacks?

Answers:

  1. Because he wanted quick money. Something he could get quickly without doing much work.
  2. As a black man found in her room, it would be seen as a more vile encounter, than if he was a white man. He would be seen as taken advantage of her based on the stereotype of blacks being rapists.
  3. They wanted to feel more powerful against the white man who seemed to have everything when they had very little.
  4. Bigger believed the generalizations that all commies were murderers, and even went as far to try to frame Jan for Mary’s death. This is similar to how whites view blacks as barbaric and would likely blame Bigger for her death anyways.

Cite this page

Novel "Native Son" by Richard Wright. (2021, Dec 03). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/novel-native-son-by-richard-wright-essay

Novel "Native Son" by Richard Wright

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