Native Son Segregation, Oppression And Hatred

1928 words - 8 pages

Native Son - Segregation, Oppression and Hatred

 

 

The novel, Native Son, portrays the struggle one black man faces while trying to live in a segregated society in the late 1930s.  Growing up poor, uneducated, and angry at the whole world, Bigger Thomas seems destined to meet a bad fate.  Bigger lives with his family in a rat-infested one-bedroom apartment on the South Side of Chicago, known as the "Black Belt."  His childhood has been filled with hostility and oppression; anger, frustration, and violence are a daily reality.  A the age of twenty, Bigger lands his first real job as a chauffeur for a rich white man, Mr. Dalton.  On his first night on the job Bigger takes Mr. Dalton's daughter, Mary Dalton, to secretly meet her boyfriend, Jan Erlone, a self-admitted Communist.  Everyone gets a little drunk, especially Mary, and after a while Bigger drops Jan off at home and takes Mary home.  As he carries Mary up the stairs and puts her into bed, Mary's blind mother walks in the room.  Bigger panics and accidentally kills Mary while trying to keep her quiet so Mrs. Dalton would not notice that he was in the room, too.  When Mary's body is discovered people initially blame Jan, but as evidence is discovered, the facts point to Bigger and he flees.  He is soon caught and put on trial for murder.  Throughout Bigger short life, he strives to find a place for himself in society, but he is unable to see through the prejudice and suppression that he encounters in those around him.  The bleak harshness of the racist, oppressive society that the author, Richard Wright, presents the reader closes Bigger out as effectively as if society had shut a door in his face.  In the first part of the novel, the narrator tells the reader, "these were the rhythms of his life: indifference and violence; periods of abstract brooding and periods of intense desire; moments of silence and moments of anger -- like water ebbing and flowing from the tug of a far-away, invisible force."  In the novel, Native Son, Richard Wright through the portrayal of Bigger's hatred and discomfort around whites, the naivety of white society, and Bigger's violent murder of a young girl shows that segregation and oppression will only foster the tension between whites and blacks and will ultimately end in violence.

 

During the mid-1900s, blacks were programmed to be afraid of whites.  When Bigger is around whites he hangs his head down as if ashamed and he talks only by mumbling in a soft, low tone.  No one has ever directly told Bigger to do this, yet he does it anyway.  During an interview with Mr. Dalton for a chauffer job, Bigger must sit in Mr. Dalton's office while being asked questions.  When Bigger first enters the room, he stands quietly with his head down and does not move until Mr. Dalton instructs Bigger to sit.  Bigger...

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