Essay on The Tragedy of Self-Awareness in Native Son

1983 Words Apr 21st, 2012 8 Pages
The Tragedy of Self-Awareness in Native son

Richard Wright’s Native Son is about the cost of suffering and sacrifices which one man, defined as the Other from the mainstream of society, must pay in order to live as a full human being in a world that denies him the right to live with dignity. As a social being, Bigger Thomas is completely deprived himself because he is unable to find his social and self-esteemed values both in the stunted ghetto life and in the oppression of racist society. Therefore, the only way Bigger can express himself is through violence and rebellion: Wright views Bigger’s tragic destiny as the evidence which directly reflects the violence of a racist society. Eventually, in Native Son, Wight’s accusation is
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Everyone in the novel is described literally or figuratively as blind people, from the state’s attorney, Buckley, whose sight is prejudiced by virulent racism, to Mrs. Dalton, whose blindness is actual as well as symbolic. As Brignano states, the world of Native Son is essentially “a world divided by a color curtain” (38), and no one ever really sees Bigger. Instead, they see what they believe because the blind people are “seduced by social stereotypes into seeing myth rather than the individual” (Felgar 100). Before Bigger kills Bessie, he rapes her. He is not conscious that he is raping her because the meaning of rape for him is much different from its general notion. When Bessie said to him that “they’ll say you raped her,” Bigger effaces a physical part from the concept of rape, and he replaces it with a psychological part:
Had he raped her? Yes, he had raped her. Every time he felt as he had felt that night, he raped. But rape was not what one did to women. Rape was what one felt when one’s back was against a wall and one had to strike out, whether one wanted to or not, to keep the pack from killing one. He committed rape every time he looked into a white face. He was a long, taut piece of rubber which a thousand white hands had stretched to the snapping point, and when he snapped it was rape. But it was rape when he cried out in hate deep in his heart as he felt the strain of living day by day. That, too, was rape (Wright

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