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Kevin Kilkenny



Native Son

Any opinion I have on this book has to be based on Bigger Thomas. Various forces have shaped him. Forces that have changed the life completely for Bigger Thomas. In Native Son, Bigger Thomas seems to be composed of a mass of disruptive emotions rather than a rational mind joined by a soul. Bigger strives to find a place for himself, but the blindness he encounters in those around him and the bleak harshness of the Naturalistic society that Wright presents the reader with close him out as effectively as if they had shut a door in his face. Bigger is controlled by forces that he cannot fully understand. Bigger's many acts of violence are, in effect, a quest for a soul. He desires an identity that is his alone. Both the white and the black communities have robbed him of dignity, identity, and individuality.

The human side of the city is closed to him, and for the most part Bigger relates more to the faceless mass of the buildings and the mute body of the city than to another human being. His mother's philosophy of suffering to wait for a later reward is equally stagnating to Bigger it appears that she is weak and will not fight to live. Her religion is blindness but she needs to be blind in order to survive, to fit into a society that would drive a person mad. All of the characters that Bigger says are blind are living in darkness because the light is too painful. Bigger wants to break through that blindness, to discover something of worth in him. Just as Bigger later hides himself amidst the catacombs of the old buildings, many people hide themselves deep within their minds in order to bear the ordeal of life and the oppression of an uncaring society. But their blindness allows them something that Bigger cannot achieve. Bigger is isolated from every facet of human affection. Max tells the court that Bigger cannot kill because he himself is dead, and a person without empathy or sympathy, without the deep steadying love of family or faith in anything. Bigger seems to be controlled his entire life by outside forces that could care less about him. He has been lied to until he believes the lies he tells himself. He has no place in society. His own mother believes in him no more than the billboard reading "you can't win" that he sees each day outside his apartment.

He has grown up in an environment where poverty is an understatement. Is it any wonder that Bigger is violent? It seems more fantastic that all of the people around him are not. He is clinging to the act of violence he performed as an affirmation of self. He is isolated by a blind society (invisibility) no one loves him, and he has never been given a chance to explore who and what he is. He is not a good person, he is not noble or true or brilliantly creative.

So in conclusion I think this story is sad. The way people can be affected by others is simple amazing. This story could have been written at any time about anybody because the thoughts and feelings that went through Beggar’s head goes also through each and every one of ours as well. Alright since I’m finishing this up now I didn’t read this book I got the book on tape but honestly I really didn’t want to read and however insightful it might have been I would have strained to keep my lids from collapsing. An A+ would as well be greatly appreciated.

Word Count: 612


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