Wright’s Native Son Depicts Racism in America (Great Events from History II: Arts and Culture Series)
Article abstract: Richard Wright’s Native Son shocked white Americans with its graphic depiction of the rage and violence engendered by racism in the hearts of African Americans.
Summary of Event
In 1939, Richard Wright completed work on Native Son, his second work of fiction and his first full-length novel. The book’s publication immediately established Wright as an important author and a spokesman on conditions facing African Americans. Earlier, Wright had published a collection of four long stories entitled Uncle Tom’s Children (1938), which gained Wright the attention of some literary critics and helped him to win a Guggenheim Fellowship. The fellowship enabled Wright to devote his full time to writing.
Native Son, published by Harper’s, was unlike any book by an African-American writer ever published. Speaking of Uncle Tom’s Children, Wright had said, “I had written a book which even bankers’ daughters could read and weep over and feel good. I swore to myself that if I ever wrote another book, no one would weep over it; that it would be so hard and deep that they would have to face it without the consolation of tears.” Native Son was indeed such a book. To avoid the unfocused sympathy of those who wished to avoid the hard realities of life for African Americans, Wright chose as his protagonist a violent young black man in Chicago, Bigger...
(The entire section is 2018 words.)
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