The following sample essay on “Native Son” is an analysis of the book of the same name by Richard Wright. It raises the issue of racial inequality.
In the world oppression against people of color was never a thing of the past rather people tend to whitewash the injustices they observe. Oppression can be referred to as a prolonged cruel or unjust treatment towards a specific group of people or person. These injustices still exist today and impact the way people of color are forced to live, dictating their lives.
The author of Native Son, Richard Wright shows an example of racial inequality through the perspective of a African American male trying to live in a racially segregated society during the 1930s, whos racism is fueled by poverty and fear, and battered around by larger social forces that shape and consume him. Growing up poor, uneducated, and angry at society, Bigger is bound to meet a substandard destiny.
Bigger lives with his family in a tiny rat-infested apartment in the “Black Belt” on the South Side of Chicago.
His childhood has been filled with bitterness, oppression, frustration, and violence. Bigger gets his first job as a driver for a white man, Mr. Dalton. Bigger takes, Mary Dalton, Mr Dalton’s daughter to meet her boyfriend, Jan Erlone, a Communist. After a while Bigger drops Jan off and takes Mary home. Whiles he carries Mary upstairs, Mary’s blind mother walks in the room, Bigger gets alarmed and suffocates Mary while trying to keep her quiet so Mrs.
Dalton does not notice that he was around.
When they found Marys body initially blamed her death on Jan, but as they performed further investigations they realized that Bigger was the cause of Marys death. Bigger finds empowerment when killing Mary and Bessie because he finds identity through these acts. Throughout Biggers life, he aspires to find a safe haven for himself in society, but he finds it difficult see through the prejudice and suppression that he encounters through people around him. The dreary cruelty of the racist, repressive society shapes Bigger into who he became. Wright develops the theme of oppression through symbolism, conflict, and tone due to racism and the impact it has on Biggers life.
In the beginning of Native Son Wright uses symbolism to foreshadow the oppression and injustices Bigger is going to face. On the first page Wright describes Biggers experience with a rat in his apartment which also symbolizes the living conditions urban blacks had live through and foreshadowing Biggers fate.
The force of his movement shook the rat loose and it sailed through the air and struck a wall. The rat at the beginning of the book is significant because it shows the type of accomodation in which they are forced to live in. The novel begins with Bigger killing a rat that has invaded their one-room apartment. The rat has hidden in the tiny apartment, living of garbage before being trapped and killed. Significantly, the rat is as trapped in the apartment just like Bigger who was trapped in the influenced society.
The Rat and Bigger have similar descriptions because they are both unable to escape and vulnerable to vicious murders. Wright uses, symbolism to develop the theme of oppression by depicting the manner in which blacks are being treated which causes Bigger to believe that using violence would result in him attaining homage. After Bigger and Gus “play white,” indicating how cornered they feel in their own lives and how much relatively independent white people are, they watch a pigeon land on the cable car track and strut around, then flies away Bigger says now if I could only do tha in this encounter the bird is a representation of freedom and Bigger is insinuating that he wishes to be as free as the Bird. This is significant because it shows Biggers dreams to escape racial segregation.
In Native Son Wright uses tone to develop the theme of oppression by describing how segregated and inferior blacks were considered, they make us live in one corner of the city? Why dont they let us fly planes and run ships (Wright, 16-17) Bigger was never satisfied with people of color turning a blind eye to the institutional racism that took place in South Side Chicago and believed that their complacency was the catalyst for how blacks were treated. As a result, Bigger finds that his future is determined by the color of his skin and the only way for him to gain respect and be successful in his world is through unlawful and criminal ways.
We live here and they live there. We black and they white. They got things and we ain’t. They do things and we can ‘t. It’s just like living in jail. Half the time I feel like I ‘m on the outside of the world peeping in through a knothole in the fence (20). Biggers tone shows that the separation whites and blacks and their different ways of living causes him to believe that whites are better than blacks. Biggers actions are in direct connection to the manner in which whites treat him.
The heinous crime he commits is what he believes is fate, because almost every white person has the preconceived notion that African Americans are the guilty ones. He is just another black monster, whose black skin condemns him to a bleak destiny. He was their property, heart and soul, body and blood what they did claimed every atom of him, sleeping and waking; it colored life and dictated the terms of death (331). This is significant because it displays biggers view on how he is treated since people of color are pushed into a congested and filthy neighborhood just for the color of their skin, and are controlled by whites.
When Bigger realizes that he was suspected of killing Mary, he went through the Black Belt finding different empty apartments to stay in before the police can find him. But the police were searching fast and he was found at the last spot the police searched for him. When he was found,and knew no way out he let go of his life, Toward no one in the world did he feel any hate now, for he knew that hate would not help him (Wright, 273).
He was found and captured. Instead of squirming, he let go of his life and let the police take care of him because he knew it was the end for him. He had done this not only was he caught, he thought that there will be no more hope for him in struggling or disobeying since they have gotten him. He knew there was no way out in what he had done working in thewhite world.
In jail, he refused for help because he thought it was too late to turn his life around. When he was on trial, Mr. Max, a lawyer friend of Jans helps Bigger and defends him. He showed the side of who Bigger Thomas really was hoping to consider the boys plea of guilty as evidence to lessen his punishment: What would prison mean to Bigger Thomas? It holds advantages for him that a life of freedom never had. To send him to prison would be more than act of mercy.
Life upon him (Wright, 404). He felt that there may be a way to change his life around because he had noticed that he was cared by Mr. Max and Jan, two Caucasian people. It made him change into a person who cares for his life and care for others who try to help him. Sending Bigger to prison would mean that he is actually someone and not just something. By saying he was someone that means he is free.