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Native Son Presentation

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by

Reina Yap

on 2 November 2014

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Transcript of Native Son Presentation

Setting and POV
Author Biography
Historical Context
Characters
Summary
Symbolism and Motifs
Major Themes
Native Son
Book One
Book Two
Book Three
Literary Merit
By Richard Wright
Born on September 4, 1908 in Mississippi
Grandson of slaves, largely raised by mother
Only achieved up to a 9th grade education
Poet and Author
Struggled with the Great Depression and poverty in Chicago, moved to New York to have a chance at being published - Published Native Son in 1940
Essential figure in development of African American Literature, with characters and settings that provide a vivid portrayal of economic and psychological effects of racism
Native Son takes place during the 1930s in Chicago, where both the Great Depression and heightened racism and segregation is taking place
Racial tensions created violence and fear between blacks and whites, while intense racial prejudice led to public amenities, such as schools and public transportation, to be segregated by color
Wright portrays these aspects vividly as his main character, Bigger Thomas, struggles with poverty and racism throughout the book
Bigger Thomas: Protagonist of story; poor, uneducated black man hired to work as a chauffeur for the Daltons
Mr. and Mrs. Dalton: Millionaire couple with their fortune from real estate; claims to be generous and supportive of black community
Mary Dalton: Daughter of Dalton's: Interacts with Bigger with little regard to boundary society imposes, ultimately leads to her death
Jan Erlone: Member of Communist Party and Mary's boyfriend
Boris A. Max: Jewish Lawyer, affiliated w/ Communists, defends Bigger in court
Bessie Mears: Bigger's girlfriend, through mutual convenience
GH, Gus, and Jack: Friends of Bigger, co-conspirators of robberies
Britten: Private Investigator hired by Mr. Dalton, racist and anti-communist
Buckley: State's Attorney, racist and anti-communist
Style
Most whites refer to black males as "boy" or "that Negro" - degrading
Communists show more respect towards the black community, both minorities
Black speeches are generally short sentences with grammatical errors
White speeches vary in length and are more complex in structure
Bigger hates world due to poverty and racism
Foreshadow to Buckley
Bigger and friend go to movie theater, masturbates
Bigger plans to rob store with friends, ends up not wanting to, gets into a fight with Gus to get out of it
Becomes the Dalton Family's driver
Bigger attempts to drive Mary to the university, detours, and picks up Jan
They try to treat Bigger as an equal, all three get drunk
Leads unconscious Mary back upstairs when they get back, considers rape, accidentally smothers her, beheads and burns her
Covering his tracks, thinks himself invincible
Makes up with friends by buying cigarettes
Peggy becomes suspicious of Jan
Visits Bessie, plans to make money using a ransom
Continues to add coal to the fire
Britten investigates and is suspicious of Bigger
Bigger drops off ransom note and checks the furnace
Press comes and Bigger sneaks away after they discover the bones
Finds Bessie and hides, rapes Bessie, beats her with a brick, dumps body in a shaft
Running from the cops, police search the city, and gets caught
In jail with few emotions, still hopeful that he won't be executed
Meets Max, Jan forgives; first time Bigger sees a white as a person
Max questions Bigger
Bigger talking to Max, and doesn't want comfort or pity, but rather understanding
Bigger realizes inevitability of his death after his sentence
"I didn't know I was really alive in this world until I felt things hard enough to kill for them."
Mrs. Dalton's Blindness
Bigger's Murders
Snow
The Wooden Cross
Native Son
Racism and its Effects
Hypocrisy of Justice
Lust
Power
Morality of Murder
Setting:
1930s Chicago
Thomas's one-room apartment
The Dalton's Mansion
The Courtroom and Jail

POV
Third Person (Limited Omniscient)
Conflict
External Conflict: Bigger is a black man in 1930s Chicago, where racism is prevalent and dictates many of the actions of each important character. Attempting to understand a racist mind is key in analyzing the characters' motives
Internal Conflict: Bigger is trying to find his own identity in a white world and finds a sense of control in his own life through violent acts. After he is arrested and placed in jail, Bigger finds that Max is actually trying to help him and he begins to feel bad about judging Mary for being white. Bigger wants his family to be okay with his execution, so he has Max tell his family that he is fine when they were about to take him away.
Entertaining to the Reader
More than One Genre
Artistic Quality by Comm.
Stood Test of Time
Thematic Depth
Innovation
Soc/Pol Impact
"Earned" Emotion
Intention of Communicating
Universal
Shocking, yet captivating for readers
Action, Social Commentary, Crime/Detective, Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction, and Suspense
Read nationwide in schools
Segregation frequent in history, continues to exist
Brings sensitive areas up for discussion
Connects two groups that experience discrimination
Black Community at first upset
Near end, sympathy for Bigger
Shows both black and white community that this is a potential result from racism and segregation
Any culture/time period can read and react to it
Didn't notice me here, did you?
Full transcript