Native Son

It has been calling my name for a few weeks now; I have not read this work since high school, thus I am excited to re-read it in a more mature and evaluative way. I have grown in so many ways intellectually since high school; however, it was by my junior year that my intellectual cultivation had come to form. And, thanks to a number of folks that encouraged me to read complex works such as A Native Son by Richard Wright, my curiosity and mind continues to explode as I seek further knowledge on issues such as religion, race, and class. If you have read this work, I would love your thoughts.

Native Son is not an uplifting book with a happy Hollywood resolution. It has been criticized for its cardboard portrayal of black pathology and heavy-handed Marxist message. But the book is an absolutely gripping potboiler that is also intellectually provocative. It is on one level a seedy, simple story of an unsympathetic character meeting his fate at his own hands, and on another an illuminating drama of an individual consciousness that challenges traditional definitions of heroism, character, and integrity. Bigger Thomas was less a character caught in a specific criminal activity than he was a crime waiting to happen.

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5 thoughts on “Native Son

  1. I love re-reading books that I read for the first time in high school or earlier. I felt I was pretty smart at the time, but like you mentioned, it makes a big difference to go back and read the same book from a different perspective.

    I’ve almost read Native Son several times; I need to check it out.

  2. I WISH I had time to read it with you… hey – I’ve still got time to change my syllabus; do you think I should supplant The Autobiography of Malcolm X for Native Son in my unit honoring Black History Month?

  3. Good question. I would do Native Son. Though X touches on a number of complex social matters, I would teach Native Son. It addresses matters that will impact and shape the formulation of your students. Sex, religion, race, and class are hit in such a profound way. Before Bigger gets the chair, his thoughts on white Christians and social injustice will leave their minds thinking for years; it is a tougher read than X.

  4. I read Native Son in one of my classes last semester and it has quickly become one of my favorite books. Enjoy re-reading it!

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