Native Son

Native Son - Richard Wright A challenging read. The easy route for the author Richard Wright would've been to write a novel asking us to sympathize with a black man wrongfully accused of murder in a racist community. But he does not take the easy route. Instead he implores the reader to follow Bigger Thomas, a young black man who is absolutely guilty of committing a deplorable act (for reasons which he himself cannot fully explain), and forces us to look at the circumstances which might have possibly created this complex man.

Although the book isn't perfect and every now and then (especially in the last 30 pages) delves into bloated preachiness, it still is very engaging and surprisingly suspenseful. It forces you to consider how society in the 1930's created a man, for whom fear and hate were the only emotions he's ever felt, and how those emotions can lead him to murder. It challenges you to understand that although the murder is essentially accidental, Bigger knows he has done something wrong but is initially unrepentant. Because after lashing out in a situation he doesn't understand, it is the first time he feels alive, with a purpose and with the control of his own life in his hands.

A challenging and important book that pulls aside the curtain and looks dead on at the circumstances that create Bigger Thomas and at the social, class, and racial relations in our society.
“Violence is a personal necessity for the oppressed...It is not a strategy consciously devised. It is the deep, instinctive expression of a human being denied individuality.”