Native Son

This is an American novel by Richard Wright. It revolves around the main character Bigger Thomas. He was from a humble background. Being a black, he was forced to commit a series of crimes that lead to his arrest. Richard tries to create a picture that shows how Bigger was affected by his race and family background and that circumstances forced his actions. He is, however, keen not to apologize for the crimes of Bigger. It shows clear examples of racism and how black Americans were treated by the white in the 1930s and the years before that. It clearly shows that the white and the blacks cannot be at the same level. The white is superior and unique. The kinds of lives for the youths from the two sides have contrasted a lot. The white kids have all the opportunities whereas the blacks have to struggle even at very young age.

Plot of the Novel

Bigger who is twenty years old goes to look for a job as a chauffeur for a rich white man’s family. When he gets the job, his first assignment is to take the rich man’s daughter, Mary to the University. The daughter, however, gives Bigger new instructions. They drive to her boyfriend’s home and they pick him up. They move around town before going for a drink. Eventually in the evening, Bigger escorts Mary up to her room. S he is so drunk to support herself. He is aroused by being so close to her but before he could do anything, Mrs. Dalton comes to check on her daughter. Bigger holds a pillow onto her mouth so that she doesn’t alarm her blind mother. This doesn’t go well and it kills Mary. Bigger makes up a story that he Mary was last with Jan. When the police find out about the body pieces in the house furnace, Bigger runs away with his girlfriend, Bessie. When they are alone, Bigger thinks that Bessie knows too much. He rapes her and then kills her. The police hunt for Bigger until they get him. He later on opens up to the lawyer hired for him by Jan. He says that he lacked options and this led to the crimes.

Reception of the Novel

Native Son is received with mixed reactions. Many black Americans especially on middle class find it unfair. They think that Richard being black should have written in a young man trying to overcome the oppression from the society. Many people, however, love the novel as it shows how culture, economic and social factors can influence a young person’s life.