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Native Son

Richard Wright's novel Native Son

Julienne Silveira

on 5 March 2014

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Transcript of Native Son

Point of View and how it impacted the audience
The narrator shares only what is going on inside of Bigger's head, but seems to know more than the character does himself. For example, the narrator knows when Bigger is scared even when he isn't aware of it himself. The narrator is third person omniscient and is fairly objective. Wright's choice of vocab was that of the 1930s used by African Americans. For example, when responding to the Daltons; Bigger would say yessum, yessuh or no'm.
Dominate Themes
Fate, fear, power and race are dominant themes.

Fate: Native Son suggests that the environment that surrounds us has a huge impact on people and that we are only partially responsible for our actions.

Fear: Fear is with Bigger throughout the whole book and is what lead to both murders.

Power: Murdering both girls gave Bigger a sense of power that he enjoyed, even though it was an accident he was glad he did it. It was the first time in his life that he had power over something so important, life or death.

Race: Racial prejudice is what this all rooted from. This why society acted in the way they did and this is what shaped Bigger into the man that he was.
Titles Significance
The meaning behind the title Native Son is that the main character Bigger Thomas basically belonged to the United States since he was born and raised as a black man.(native to the Country.) The title suggests that if he is a monster it can be blamed on American society. Social and cultural forces is what shaped him.
Authors Purpose
The authors purpose for writing this book was to show the realities of the racist society in that time period and the struggle African Americans had day in and day out. He also wanted the reader to ask themselves if his murders should be blamed upon American society.
Historical Context
This book took place in the segregated community of Chicago and was set in the 1930s, before the civil war era. Racial segregation was still legal and Bigger lived on the South side along with other African Americans. Whites had a higher authority over them and communists were fighting for equal rights and were just as mistreated.
Native Son

Structure and importance of the novel.
The novel is in chronological order with a long descriptive prologue in the beginning. The center conflict is resolved by blaming the disappearance of Mary Dalton on her communist friend Jan. The author writes about the racial prejudice and injustice towards African Americans in that time. This tugs at the readers emotions and makes them understand some of what they went through, brushing of the murders as something less than it was. Richard Wright set up this novel into three chapters, Book 1 Fear, Book 2 Flight and Book 3 Fate, with chapter lengths varying from 85 pages to 161.
Stylistic Choices and their values
Use of Dialogue
Dialogue has its share telling the story especially when Bigger is being questioned for the murders. Whole conversations are seen and the dialogue doesn't give a sense of pacing of the unsaid, everything is pretty straight forward and clear. Slang is used when there is dialogue between Bigger and another character. It appears natural because this is how African Americans spoke in that time period. Interactions between characters are substituted as dialogue.
Dialogue is important because it is talking from the core of the character. It makes connections with each other and allows the reader to get to know the character.
Point of View
The point of view is third person omniscient. The narrator is not a character in the novel and seems to know everything even when Bigger is not aware of it.It allows a deeper bond between the characters and allows the reader to experience the story in all angles.
Paragraph/Chapter length
Richard wright set this novel into three chapters with lengths varying from 85 pages to 161. The paragraph lengths differ, some longer and some shorter. The chapters are separated by strong, important themes.
This is important because the themes are set up and fit in with should American Society be blamed for Biggers actions. It starts at fear, than goes to flight and than fate. It's showing that fear led to the crime and because of this fear, Biggers fate was already in place because of society; the outcome could of been different if society had been different.
Most important theme
"He stood with her body in his arms in the silent room and cold facts battered him like waves sweepimg in from the sea: she was dead; she was white; she was a woman;he had killed her; he was black: he might be caught; he did not want to get caught; if he were they would kill him."
I think fear was the most important theme because this was what caused Bigger to do what he did. The murder was an accident, but he knew that if he told someone it was an accident they wouldn't believe him and he would be put to death either way.
The effect the novel had on my personal beliefs and thoughts
The book made me ponder the question should American society be blamed for Bigger's actions. This is exactly what Richard Wright wanted. I believe that the racial prejudice of society had an impact on his choices, but that there was something else that made the accidental killing his proudest achievement. I believe that if it was solely based on American society than all the other African Americans would have also been driven to murder.
The Value of the book
It shows the racial prejudice and injustice African American went through.It also makes you think about and wonder if crimes committed by African Americans in that time period should of been blamed on society.
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