Native Son Questions and Answers
by Richard Wright

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In Native Son, how does Wright attract symapthy for Bigger?

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Wright takes the social conditions faced by African- Americans and internalizes them in the character of Bigger.  In some respects, Wright's depiction is the logical extension of Langston Hughes' ideas in his poem, "Dream Deferred."  As Hughes poses the problem, Wright seems to be positing an answer to it.  The last line of the poem, "Or does it explode?" seems to be the poetic representation of Bigger.  Wright is able to draw sympathy for Bigger because of the manner in which he depicts the world in which Bigger lives.  Being the victim to constant manipulation from Whites as well as being confronted with the lack of opportunity to do anything productive, Wright suggests that Bigger has only crime as a realistic option.  Wright is smart enough to be able to counter the "opportunity ideology" that would suggest hard work and dedication can make life better for people of color.  Wright seems to be arguing, through Bigger, that the continued inability or unwillingness of White society to remedy the inner cities will be disastrous for both people of color and the cultural majority.  Wright believes that "if society and government fail to address the horrendous living conditions of black Americans, then society would be responsible for the resulting violence."  In this light, sympathy is evoked for Bigger and while we recognize that he is responsible for murder and acts of violence, something that Wright does not excuse, we understand that there are sociological factors that have to be examined in such a predicament.

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