Critical Context (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series)

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Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 152

Although Lawd Today was his first novel, Wright was unsuccessful at having it published, and it was not until after his death that the work finally reached the printer. Certainly, Lawd Today is inferior to his masterpiece, Native Son (1940); Wright did, however, accomplish several things of note in the...

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Although Lawd Today was his first novel, Wright was unsuccessful at having it published, and it was not until after his death that the work finally reached the printer. Certainly, Lawd Today is inferior to his masterpiece, Native Son (1940); Wright did, however, accomplish several things of note in the novel which make it invaluable for understanding his work in a larger context.

First, Wright captured superbly the language of the black ghetto in all of its color and shades of meaning. Second, the book is extremely interesting structurally. It is compact, compressed into a tight little drama. Description is at a premium, and most of the story is seen through the eyes of the characters in dialogue. Indeed, one can surmise that much of Wright’s early development as a writer took place in Lawd Today. Ultimately, however, the novel’s legacy is its portrait of the brutal world of ghetto life.

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Critical Context (Masterplots II: African American Literature)