Racism In Native Son

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From a young age, members in society are impressionable on those around them in their attempts to conform to the ever-expanding set of social norms their peers follow and enforce. The characters in the book Native Son by Richard Wright are no different. In this story, a young black man, Bigger Thomas, navigates through Chicago in the 1930s, during a time of severe segregation and discrimination against African-Americans, to the point where they have almost no freedom at all. To support his family and survive, Bigger takes a job as a chauffeur for the Dalton’s, an esteemed white family praised for their donations to colored organizations. After driving their daughter, Mary, home, Mary’s intoxicated state forces Bigger to carry her up to her…show more content…
Every thought through Bigger’s mind and every behavior he executes has to take into account his race and status, and how that will affect his choices. Most of the time, his situation drastically limits them. Early in the novel, Bigger muses about how he is often “thinking about [him] being black and they being white,” and how the difference changes opportunities for him (Wright 20). Thus, the racial conflicts occurring in Bigger’s time are constantly on his mind, showing how his race is beginning to dominate his thoughts and the negative effect this has on his later behaviors. Later on, Wright explains that eventually, after a lifetime of racism and “a feeling of being forever commanded by others” causes “thinking and feeling for one’s self [to be] impossible” (Wright 331). This relates to Bigger’s circumstances because after years of being controlled by others, he ultimately does not know how to think, and act, for himself. Therefore, when he murdered Mary, he may not have been thinking rationally due to society making it impossible for him to do so himself. Additionally, Bigger himself says, “‘they don’t even let you feel what you want to feel,” further proving how his entire mind and body were not under his control, or at least greatly shaped by the whites regulating the community around him (Wright 353). Because of the perpetual presence racism and discrimination occupy in Bigger’s mind, they may have caused a lack of control over his behavior, eventually leading to Mary’s death, therefore displaying how the murder may have not only been Bigger’s fault, but society’s as

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