Richard Wright’s novel ˝Native Son˝ has a powerful reflection on hardship and poverty and what it means to be black in America. The novel tells a story about young African-American Bigger Thomas who is living in a poor area of city Chicago. The book is split into three parts. Each part describes a part of Bigger’s life: Fear, Flight and Fate.
Young Bigger is disappointed and frustrated with his lack of lucky chance and opportunity. He believes that all important decisions made about his life are made by the white people. Even when makes a decision on his own it is based on what the white people will think. Because of his doubt, fear and confusion, he is forced to hurt and kill a young white woman in a moment of panic. This act makes him feel alive and dominant. Finally, he has power and control over the race that has wronged him. He is identified as the killer and has to escape. Nevertheless, he is the one who is making a choice what to do next. But his decisions lead him to another disaster; he rapes and murders another woman. Faced with arrest and detention, Bigger now must deal with his actions and his fate.
Richard Wright writes frightening and powerful story full of emotions and controversy. In the story he also mentions communism, liberalism, capitalism and religion. Each of these beliefs is represented by different characters so the reader can decide whether agrees with the character or not on different opinions. This is an intensive and violent novel. It shows us segregation, consequences of oppression and poverty historically and even today.
BOOK SUMMARY-Native Son-Richard Wright
PART ONE-Native Son-Richard Wright: FEAR
The story begins when Bigger Thomas awakes at the sound of an alarm. He lives with his sister Vera, his brother Buddy and their mother in a small room. That day, Bigger has a job interview with Mr. Dalton. His family existence depends on that job. Bigger does not like that kind of responsibility but at the same time he has no idea what to do. He goes to pool room to meet some of his friends: Jack, G.H. and Gus. They start to plan a theft of the white rich people. Although, they are all scared of stealing from the white people, the will not admit that to each other. Before the theft, Bigger and Jack decide to go to the cinema and watch a movie. They are captivated by the wealthy lives of the whites in the movie. After the movies, Bigger gets a gun from home and goes to pool room. Gus comes in late and Bigger gets angry at him. He attacks him of being a coward. He violently makes him to lick the blade of his knife. Secretly, Bigger feels relieved because now theft is not going to happen. Bigger gets the job but he is confused because he doesn’t know how to behave in big and fancy house. The Daltons try to be nice and kind to Bigger, but they are only making him feel uncomfortable. Their daughter Mary asks Bigger if he belongs to a union and she calls her father a capitalist. Bigger is feeling angry and confused, he does not know what that word means. Later, Peggy the cook shows Bigger his room. This is a first time he has a room just for himself. That night, he drives around Mary and her communist boyfriend Jan. They tried to be kind and friendly to him but instead Bigger feels mad. Jan and Mary get drunk and they have sex in the car. It was time to get Mary home but she is really drunk, so Bigger has to carry her into the house to her bedroom. He is terrified that someone might see them. However, he could not resist Mary and he starts kissing her. In that moment, blind Mrs. Dalton enters the bedroom. Bigger is horrified that she will feel his presence in her daughter’s room so he presses the pillow over her face to shut her down. Mrs. Dalton is assured Mary is sleeping, leaves the bedroom. When Bigger removed the pillow, he noticed that Mary is dead. She suffocated. He started panicking and hysterically decides to lie. He will say that Jan brought her home. But instead he decides that it would be much better if everyone thinks that Mary disappeared. In anguish he decides to burn the body in the furnace. The furnace is too small for her body so he decapitates her head, fits the body inside and burns her.