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Native Son

Essay by   •  December 10, 2010  •  Essay  •  622 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,140 Views

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Richard Wright's 1940 novel, Native Son, illustrates the brutality of racism within the segregated community of Chicago. Bigger Thomas, a young black man struggling to face society, lives an angry and confused life with not knowing the reason for racism. He wishes to experience life without being limited to certain things or places just because of the color of his skin. In writing Native Son, Wright illustrates the extensive difference between the black belt and the white man's world. Wright clearly exhibits how blacks indeed were oppressed during the time and reveals the vast difference between lifestyles of the colored and the whites.

The community in which Bigger Thomas lives in is a neighborhood of just African Americans. It is considered the poorest part of the entire town. The community itself is very suffocating and unbearable to live in for permanent times. Bigger, his mother "ma", his sister Vera, and his brother Buddy, all live in "[a] tiny, one-room apartment" (4). In such a small space there is barely any privacy; "rooms" are separated by curtains. For example, when the mother went to go cook dinner for the family she "went behind the curtain to the gas stove" (9). No matter how hard they tried to gain privacy, it was almost impossible because of such a small apartment. Not only is the space excruciating, but the environment is also unbearable. The neighborhood in which they live in is not hygienic. At the start of the novel, the family encounters "a huge black rat" in the apartment (5). Thus, the environment is obviously unsanitary. To have foot long rats running around implies that there is a lot of garbage and dirt around for the rats to feed off of. Nevertheless, this is the living conditions in which Bigger and his family must deal with because of society and the way blacks are made to feel inferior.

On the other hand, there is the Dalton family; a wealthy white family who lives an opposite lifestyle in contrast to the Thomas family. The Daltons are millionaires who own part of the South Side Real Estate Company. The South Side Real Estate Company is the company that owns the Thomas's building and the surrounding homes. Mr. Dalton has not experienced living in the South Side, therefore he understands very little about the racism and poverty situations that occur. Bigger has never been in any other part of town other then South Side Chicago.

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