What is the main theme in R. Wright's Native Son?

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main theme of Wright's Native Son has to do with the context of fear that people are forced to live under when institutionalized racism is present in society.  The novel's protagonist Bigger Thomas is so afraid that he will be accused of rape that he unintentionally murders Mary Dalton.  Again, his fear causes him to act irrationally, irresponsibly, and immorally to cover up his crime.  Bigger then becomes consumed by the fear of being caught that he continues to behave in strange ways.  When he exerts violence against his girlfriend Bessie and is caught, this rape and murder go virtually unnoticed when paralled to the murder of Mary.  All these problems stem from Bigger's initial fear that he will be accused by Mary's mother if she finds him in Mary's bedroom, a fear that is driven by the institutionalized racism and stereotypes of the time.

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Native Son

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