The American Dream: Opportunity Essay

991 words - 4 pages

The American Dream is a set of social ideas of what the U.S. offers such as equality, democracy, and material prosperity. The American Dream is an opportunity and is based off perspectives; what happens to the dreamer when the opportunity is not granted? Richard Wright’s 1940 novel “Native Son” is about a troubled young man in his early twenties set in the Chicago's Southside’s ghetto; he is unemployed and looking to find out who he really is. Fear, hatred, and racism are central conflicts, and it influenced Bigger Thomas, the protagonist, ravaging his uniqueness so relentlessly that his self-expression resulted in violence. Wright used Bigger Thomas to exemplify the effects that racism has on the psychological state of the African American victims. Through symbols Wright expresses racism and hypocrisy of the justice system as a negative influence on the dream of Bigger, the “Native Son”.
The novel starts off with the ring of an alarm for a wakeup call for a family living in a rat-infested segregated community in Chicago’s Southside’s ghetto. The bell is not only to wake up the Thomas family in the novel, but a warning call for America if they do not change how they accept life from the racist viewpoint. Bigger is fiercely upset and angry that his family has to live in a one room apartment where the brothers have to hide their faces of the shame the sister, Vera and mother, Ms. Thomas would cause. He has been restricted due to the fact that he has only completed the eighth grade and racism in the practice of real estate forcing the Thomas family to live in poverty. The narrator states, “He shut their voices out of his mind. He hated his family because he knew that they were suffering and that he was powerless to help them. He knew that the moment he allowed himself to feel its fullness how they lived, the shame and misery of their lives, he would be swept out of himself with fear and despair” (Wright, 10).
While smoking a cigarette, further in the story Bigger sees an airplane and thinks of flying an airplane and being free. Wright gives us a short conversation on viewpoints of Bigger and Gus, Bigger’s gang friend. Bigger says, “I could fly one of those things if I had a chance”, “If you wasn’t black and if you had some money and if they’d let you go to aviation school, you could fly a plane,” replied Gus (Wright, 17). Of all the “ifs” Gus replied back naturally Bigger realized he would never have a chance to fly an airplane. Wright italicizes the word could as if he is pointing out a young black man could in fact do anything they put their mind to if society did not belittle their individuality.
Bigger could get a job as a chauffeur for the Daltons, a Caucasian American family, but not as an airplane pilot. The Dalton family is...

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