Richard Wright American Literature Analysis
Wright’s most significant achievement as a writer was his ability to render the particulars of American racism from the point of view of its victims. He powerfully chronicles the historical injustices that black Americans have suffered: physical abuse and emotional degradation, the denial of meaningful opportunities to cultivate and benefit from their native abilities, stifling living conditions dictated by segregation and poverty, and a compromised legal system.
In Wright’s fiction, as in his own life, characters respond to such outrages first with rebellion and finally with flight, because escape alone seems to offer a real alternative. Yet his depictions of the northern migration undertaken by thousands of southern black people in the twentieth century always include the disorientation and rootlessness they suffer in their new urban milieu, and his expatriates continue to struggle with the psychological wounds—rage, anxiety, and self-doubt—engendered by earlier bigotry.
The various philosophical positions Wright assumes in his work spring from his hunger to see the African American’s experience as a metaphor for the modern human condition. Having learned to interpret the world through a deterministic lens, he finds in literary naturalism a congenial intellectual apparatus upon which to build the compelling logic of his narratives. The antidote to naturalistic despair in Wright’s early fiction is provided by Communism, which...
(The entire section is 3227 words.)
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