Richard Wright's Native Son Term Paper

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Richard Wright's Native Son

Written when he was a member of the Communist Party, Richard Wright's Native Son contains Marxist elements throughout the novel. Wright was also influenced by naturalist writing techniques and by existential philosophy, but more of the novel's characters and plot elements are influenced by Marxism than by naturalism or by existentialism. For example, while Native Son is largely about racism in America, Wright phrases his ideas on racism also as a matter of class conflict. For example, blacks are viewed as second-class citizens because they are poor. Early in the novel, Bigger concludes that "rich white people liked Negroes better than they did poor whites," (37). Race is often depicted as a matter of class in Native Son, even more than as a matter of skin color. The presence of communist characters like Mary, Jan and Boris contribute to the novel being a Marxist one. The novel's protagonist, Bigger Thomas, is not himself a Marxist, but his life becomes inevitably shaped by class struggle, which is the essence of Marxism. Richard Wright's Native Son is an American Marxist novel because its characters and plot elements are shaped by class struggle.

Bigger fears whites as a generalized force of oppression; they are not only the dominant group because of their skin color but because they control the means of production. Marxism is concerned mainly with the control of the means of production. In Native Son, the rich people are in control, and the rich people also happen to be white. Therefore, race is secondary to class. For example, Mr. Dalton controls Bigger's entire building. Even though he pretends to be a great supporter of the African-American community as through his donating money to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Dalton remains a capitalist. Even his own daughter Mary criticizes him for being a capitalist (p. 59). Mr. Dalton is also portrayed as patronizing, both in a positive and negative sense. Literally, he is a financial patron to blacks, but he also patronizes, or looks down on, them as social… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

Richard Wright's Native Son.  (2005, May 17).  Retrieved January 24, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Richard Wright's Native Son."  17 May 2005.  Web.  24 January 2020. <>.

Chicago Format

"Richard Wright's Native Son."  May 17, 2005.  Accessed January 24, 2020.