Analysis of Richard Wright's Native Son Essays

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In Richard Wright’s Native Son, Bigger Thomas attempts to gain power over his environment through violence whenever he is in a position to do so.
The first expression of Bigger’s desire for power comes in the opening scene of the book in which Wright sets the precedent for Bigger’s actions. In the opening scene, the Thomas family discovers a black rat in their apartment, and it is Bigger’s task to take care of it. Bigger kills the rat, and through this action, he asserts control over the disturbance of his environment. Though he dominates one annoyance in his environment, he is not yet satisfied; he needs to have control over his family as well. In his quest to gain control over his family, he takes the dead rat and dangles it around Vera’s face to scare her thus putting him in control. Bigger’s act of waving the rat is not a physically aggressive action, but it still constitutes violence because it is an unjustified assertion of force. Bigger is not satisfied that he only has control of Vera, however. Next he must control his mother, which he does by not responding when she asks him to help Vera to bed. Bigger only obeys after the second time that his mother tells him to act, which demonstrates that he decides what he does and when he does it, as opposed to his mother’s doing so. Thomas’ reasons for pursuing his control are the same ones that he has for killing Mary; he must have power over any oppressive structure that he can. His mother is oppressive in the way that she seeks to limit him through rules, forcing him to get a job, and commanding him to act. Bigger’s mother even prohibits him from forming any self-identity because she alters other people’s perception of Bigger. When Bigger refuses to obey his mother she calls...

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...the Reverend. Others elect to cope through doing the best they can to fit in like Bessie. However, the most threatening members of society are the people like Bigger Thomas. These people do not accept the status quo and attempt to gain control through abnormal ways. A need for control drives actions like drug dealing which give money that allows one to have a higher social status in their environment. An elevated social status in a constrained environment gives the illusion that one has control over their lives. Others turn to gangs or other violent institutions because they can directly have control over another human through the violence and fear that they create. People similar to Bigger Thomas will continue to be created unless society destroys the class discrepancies that exist which would allow a person to pursue their own individual control over their lives.

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