Snow falls, lending an aura of peace to the desolation. I never thought that I'd see it again. Huge flakes coated the roof of the car, which lay in a ditch, covered in an immense drift of sand. I reached out with my tongue, and watched the snow gently pile against the faceplate. I took a rasping breath, listened to the air wheeze through the filters, and pulled my tongue back. There was no snow, only a gentle rain of ashes. I was a fool to have thought it was snow. How could there be?

And in the front seat of the car, a husk grinned at me through the glittering fragments of saf-t-glas.

The ashes continued to sift down, as I methodically plodded home, leaving leaded footprints in the dust, as regular as the ticks from the counter at my waist.

A cockroach scuttled accross my boot. And the moon wept a silent tear for its ruined lover.

Setting and symbolism are key elements in developing a character and his motives. Richard Wright’s Native Son places the protagonist Bigger Thomas in a situation that reflects and helps to cause his actions. Symbolism exposes ideas about Bigger and his murdering of two girls. Symbolism and setting show some of his history, how and why he turned to violence. If one has a history of aggression and alienation, one may seek revenge against a bigoted society as a product of his or her environment.

Early 1900’s Chicago is a city in the north that would not usually be connected to racism as much as a southern city would. Wright is showing how racism is inherent in every city in every state, and that the systematic discrimination can lead to many Bigger Thomases. As simply as the season, white supremacy and its unavoidable influence on society blankets the city with “flakes of white” snow. Whenever Bigger approaches the white world or runs into something new, it begins to snow. This is the white influence he cannot escape, it is everywhere he turns. When Bigger is caught by the whites he is among them, just as he is “dragged over the snow” and eventually ends up “deep down in the snow.” It is his inability to escape this white influence that aggravates Bigger, forcing him to use violence as an outlet and a weapon against an oppressive white society.

The times and mindsets of people represent a setting which makes Bigger want to hurt an environment that created him. Capitalism, for one, is an inherent part of society all around Bigger, and he is not able to participate. Wherever he looked, new, “sleek cars zoomed past”, cars which symbolized capitalism. Bigger “wanted to be an aviator once, but he is not able to participate in business because “they don’t want us to.” Capitalism is an exclusively white affair in this setting and any setting; most others are discrimiinated against. Bigger is isolated from any kind of white society. The early Red Scare is also going on during this time period, as Bigger thinks it is easy and viable to blame the communists for his crimes. Britten also trie to blame the communist party, saying to Bigger: “you are a communist!” Suspicions and tensions are high surrounding the conflicts between Capitalism and communism. Individual symbols within Native Son are few yet significant in illustrating Bigger’s feelings. The furnace burns “red-hot” as it “gleamed in the crimson darkness”. The red symbolizes the blood and violence that Bigger has turned to, and that anyone before him has turned to. Violence and oppression before Bigger’s time have only perpetuated his situation. Blacks have been historically prejudiced against since the beginning of the country. The color red also becomes a reminder of the communist factor that Bigger and the papers have brought up. The furnace itself is a constant harbinger of Bigger’s guilt for having killed, along with the unavoidable consequences. “The furnace droned”, as it carries the key peice of incriminating evidence, the bone chip. The furnace brings all the consequences upon Bigger. Without it, no one would have ever discovered his crimes.

The Dalton’s white cat symbolizes the suspicion put on Bigger because of only his skin color, even though he thinks no one suspects him. Bigger feels the “two green burning pools – pools of accusation and guilt” upon him, the eyes of “the white cat.” The cat returns to accuse him when the press is snapping pictures, also immortalizing his guilt, “with the cat poised on his shoulder.” Bigger has constantly felt this accusation because of the white society he lives in and his skin color which seperates him from all whites and their advantages.

Bigger feels the accusations of others and their suspicions all his life, leading to massive guilt. His surroundings and situation have only added to his aggression. He was forced to strike back. When someone has a history of aggression and alienation, he or she could seek revenge against a bigoted society as a product the person’s environment.

Native Son: Are Rape, Pillage, and Murder a Consequence of Society?

Born without conscience, murderers are different than everyone else; they are amoral and consist primarily of the criminally insane, the evil, or the simply sadistic. Society is full of such misconceptions. The social hierarchy would do anything to avoid implications that their oppression plays a major factor in violent crimes, and in doing such, they create monsters, communal carcinogens that corrode the State’s, culture’s, and community’s morality. The murderer’s habitat manifests itself into a haven for the parasites that infest the strict social code that has been enforced since the murderer’s creation. In an attempt to circumvent cultural beliefs, Richard Wright’s novel Native Son delves into the circumstances under which a normal human being is driven to violence. It is under a constant but always changing set of circumstances that we live, and are shaped. Morality is a variable, not a coefficient. Bigger Thomas demonstrates that morality, and conscience, are not the independent variables, but the dependent ones, constantly changing and evolving to the structure of their environments.

An environment in which the bourgeoisie distributes its wealth unevenly breeds a constant disdain from the proletariat. The lower class of a society in a caste system is an angry one. Brooding in their squalor, many social-rejects called this writhing, contempt-ridden, squalor their home. A home to poverty, envy, and ultimately crime, Chicago in the 1930’s was a haven for bankrupt morals and despicable actions. According to the theory of socialization, which is, “typically referred to as the social development of human beings, specifically the process of ‘making fit for society’” (Cairns 279), mankind has an inherently neutral alignment, and simply waits for the social training, the molding of fears and guilt. Unfortunately, sometimes the system lets some of the lower class slip through the cracks, breaking their spirit, and denying them their place among their peers. Without society’s rules and regulations to act as detours, Bigger Thomas writhes in his own ignorance, compulsiveness, and inability to amount to anything.

While the sentiment of inequality festers amongst Bigger and his friends, he imagines he is someone else, anyone, in order to escape his circumstances. He yearns to be someone stronger, with more opportunity. Someone less black.
“That’s Buckley!” he spoke softly to himself. “He’s running for State’s Attorney again.” The men were slapping the poster with wet brushes. He looked at the round florid face and wagged his head. “I bet that sonofabitch rakes off a million bucks in a graft year. Boy, if I was in his shoes for just one day I’d never have to worry again.” (Wright 16)
To no avail, he lives each day as if he may someday succeed. Refusing to accept his fate in society as an impoverished Negro boy, Bigger Thomas sets himself up for disappointment with his dreams of flying. Like Sisyphus who was destined to push a boulder up a mountainside, only to watch it plunge to the bottom again each time he neared the lip, forcing him to start over. In accordance with this Greek myth, Bigger Thomas was doomed to repeat the actions of his everyday routine with no hope of ever succeeding. All the while, Bigger’s helpless situation pushes him further from the culture that created him.

His distance from society is what many murderers and rapists feel. Set apart from others, he feels isolation and imprisoned by his habitat. Based in racial, and economic issues, Bigger comes to the realization that he will never be happy with what he can achieve in this society. His blood bubbles with his feeling of helplessness, the feeling of being born black, or as Houston Baker phrases it, being born “in the hole” (NEONS 90). Baker asserts that, “the hole thus stands as an ironic indictment of the commercial birth of modern man.” (NEONS 90). There is a point to be made in this. When one is born poor, which in 1930’s is synonymous with being born black, one is at a place that is beyond recovery. If one is born so far away from the top of the hole, such that he spends his entire life trying to climb out, then it is argued that, one should have never been born at all. So, in describing birth into the minority as an automatic disadvantage, Baker pinpoints a factor that plagues Bigger’s conscious mind throughout Native Son. “We live here and whites live there. We black and they white. They got things we ain’t. They do things we can’t. It’s just like living in jail. Half the time I feel like I’m on the outside of the world peeping in through a knot hole in the fence…” (Wright 19) Crippling social stigmas, which are created by economic status, are the driving force behind Bigger’s madness. The economy creates the hierarchy of society, and in that society, the caste system is put in place to maintain its structure and assure wealth stays in the same place. His reasoning, and actions deteriorate throughout the book, so much so that by novel’s end he has notched two murders, and a rape, all escalating from his job acceptance with Mr. Dalton, an occupation that he would have done anything in his power to avoid, were it not economically his only course of action.

One, who is condemned to a life that one doesn’t choose, but is forced to lead, struggles in a net of oppression. Such was the case for the black inhabitants of Chicago during the 1930’s; struggling and permanently stifled, they were forced to live their lives constantly enduring the racism, capitalism, and segregation that they were born into. Bigger realizes that he is not free to do his own will, so he’s “maddened… that he doesn’t have a wider course of action” (Wright 16), a fate so terrible that one would do anything to avoid it, possibly even kill, anything to avoid destiny. The attempt to escape what he was. Unfortunately, the opportunity to escape could not arise, not in a Calvinist society, which America practically is. According to John Calvin, salvation was not a choice, but was rather pre-decided by God from the beginning of time. A leader of a sect of the protestant reformation, Calvin believed that, “As God seals his elect by vocation and justification, so by excluding the reprobate from the knowledge of his name and the sanctification of his Spirit, he affords an indication of the judgment that awaits them” (Calvin). Which technically means that before birth, there is an inherent way you are going to act, determining whether or not you get into heaven. Depending on how you act, people would believe that you were either chosen, or condemned by God from the beginning, and once you are one or the other you can’t repent or rectify your actions. In the society in which he was raised, Calvinism was an unstated belief. The people must know their roles, and fulfill them as best they can, while never surpassing their predetermined status in the community, even if that means being destroyed by what they have become. But Bigger doesn’t want to be destroyed by what he has become; he wants to soar, “‘God he’d like to get up there in that sky’” (20). But in the same thought, bigger acknowledges why the white man doesn’t want him to fly: “‘’cause if he took a plane up he’d take a couple of bombs along, and drop ‘em, sure as hell’” (20). The systematic oppression of the lower class blacks in the 1930’s, the campaign to “keep that nigger boy running” (Ellison 2), was enforced out of fear. The white man was afraid of what the black man was capable. But what the system of white government officials didn’t realize was, they were harvesting a new race of anti-social criminals. The environment, put into effect to produce diminutive and submissive blacks, was failing, and instead sporadically producing an uncooperative vigilante who yearns for greatness.

It is the nature of every American to want to succeed, but everyone goes about it differently. For Bigger Thomas, he was required to hide a dead body, and flee the authorities, all in an attempt to accomplish the American dream, a dream that is one of all mankind, but one that isn’t accomplishable by all mankind - impoverished Negroes need not apply. Is it because the Negro is born inferior, or without work ethic? Although neither is the case, “Some say the Negro is childish, lazy, etc. These ideas find their way in one form or another even into text books taught in public schools” (Kinnamon 47), says Richard Wright in a conversation about anthropological beliefs about the black man’s nature.

The nature of Bigger is that of many black men in his situation: poor, oppressed, lied to, angry, dreaming, and most of all, doomed. But Richard Wright portrays Bigger in a way that is set back from the reader, therefore disallowing the ability to emote with him. Not to deprive us from his thoughts, we are keyed into his thoughts for a lot of the book, but rather, to deprive us from understanding his feelings and motives. Wright does this to prove a point. Bigger is emotionally stunted, his humanity has been persuasion, allowing the reader to make their decisions based simply on the situation at hand. Wright knew what he wanted to express, “the extreme poverty of a Negro and the contempt in which whites hold him made him unhappy – not stronger, but miserable. And he finally killed. And then the whites said: ‘see how all blacks are criminals’” (Kinnamon 88). Upon killing his employer’s daughter by accident, he is thrown into a turmoil not known to the average human being. He knows that he has no hope of ever ascending the social ladder; no black man in his situation could hold a chance. With nothing to lose, Bigger Thomas became free to do anything.

The void of morality that consumes Bigger spawns from the void of dignity he has been treated with his entire life. This void in morality is his absolute freedom, one in which his actions are only reactions to his situations. This type of freedom is not granted by the constitution, but by lack of conscience and morality. Nihilistic in his approach to his crimes, Bigger Thomas believes that his actions are neither good nor bad, but real. Real, and reactionary, he never wanted to do anything that would hurt himself, but he had to, because that was the hand he was dealt, and when dealt a hand, one must play that hand, for you can’t make use of cards that you don’t have. Bigger has a hand dealt to him harsher than many could ever imagine. He’s black, he’s poor, and he’s American. Bigger is born into an environment that already had him marked before he came out of the womb. He knows he’s the victim of a predetermined outcome, a victim of Calvinism, and he doesn’t know how to react. The white men claim that black people are born to rape and pillage, and, “when folks says things like that about you, you‘re whipped before you‘re born. What’s the use?” (Wright 325). Bigger’s attempts to pull himself from his web of oppression only ensnares him deeper into the pre-conceptions whites had of lower-class black people. So if all he does is null, why continue to struggle. The realization here brings the novel to a completely different end of the spectrum. Originally Bigger understood the social pressures being inflicted by the white man, but attempted to rise above them. By the end of the book he embraces his inability to overcome, and becomes the poster child for “native sons” everywhere. Wright uses the term “native son” to relay a strong reading of the book in two simple words. He intends to present the arguments, and piece in such a way that exhibits Bigger Thomas as a socially native member of his habitat. He was born into this society, and shaped from it.

Bigger is conscience of everything he does, he isn’t insane, or in a fit of rage. He actually takes the time to write a note and sign it “red”. Is this an action of an ignorant Cro-Magnon? Not at all, Bigger is simply using what he knows to try and avoid trouble. He knows that the society around him hated only one thing more than blacks, and that is the communists. Which makes it extremely confusing to the prosecuting attorney when Max, a communist lawyer, takes Bigger’s case, at the request of Jan Erlone. Max believes that, “The boy got this idea from the newspapers. I’m defending this boy because I’m convinced that men like you made him what he is. His trying to blame the Communists for his crime was a natural reaction for him” (Wright 271). Max was strangely enough, the voice of Richard Wright in this case. He was the objective viewer who was there to interpolate Bigger’s actions. Max, while having various other motives, namely the communist party, is a key element for the reader to understand Bigger’s mental state and feelings about his crimes. Wright uses Max in an attempt to dissolve common misconceptions about communism. He uses it to show that while not a sole conclusion, it is an impeccable ideology, especially for the economically oppressed, especially for the black people. This is reflected throughout the course of the trial, Max is one of the few individuals that Bigger opens up some of his thoughts to, including his beliefs of what shaped him.

Nothing but his environment could lead to Bigger’s fate. Inarguably, he received many bad breaks, but is these random bad breaks, causation for his actions? It could be argued that regardless of a person’s cultural adaptations, there is something that makes them act differently. An argument regarding the functioning ability of a person says that:
There are some environmental occurrences that lead to changes in the makeup of the organism; they affect what the organism has and how it functions. In short, these factors change the constitution of one’s physical and/or physiological processes. (Lerner 97) Does this argument consider Bigger any more accountable for his actions than his environment is? Not necessarily. If the situations at hand are of the magnitude that would drive a human being to rape and murder, then the creators of the situations must be prosecuted as well. This is what Richard Wright was aiming to prove in his writings, that “man is both strongly conditioned by environment and able in certain ways to transform himself and his environment through consciousness and free will” (Butler 110). Bigger is held down by his environment, which is why Wright uses him as an example of the morally decayed. It’s under his circumstances, caged and bound like the animal that he is, that the ethically corrupt of society can best be viewed. The creation of Bigger Thomas isn’t easily definable; the reader doesn’t know the functions of his id, mainly because Bigger himself can’t comprehend it. Bigger knows that the way the world is set up impedes his progress, but he neglects to focus on each factor individually and grow as a person from them. By the end of the book, he has grown, and begins to understand the conditions that affect his personal character. This growth in Bigger’s character was employed by Wright to convey the ineffectual nature of post-oppression compensation. Wright makes it understood through Bigger, that sometimes, you can’t repent, for sometimes the damage is too great. Clearly demonstrated in his monologue before his death, bigger asserts what he has observed from his experiences here on earth. “But really I never wanted to hurt nobody”, Pleads a rationalizing and truthful Bigger Thomas, “I hurt folks ‘cause I felt I had to; that’s all. They was crowding me too close; they wouldn’t give me no room. Lots of times I tried to forget ‘em, but I couldn’t. They wouldn’t let me” (Wright 388). He knew what made him snap. The push of society kept coming, and when Bigger finally gets to the point where he pushes back, he is immediately condemned. Unfortunately for Thomas, he’s ignorant to these facts, and not versed in defense techniques against oppression.

Swiftly the night falls on the day that is Bigger Thomas’ life. He writhes, as he gets into the electric chair, perfectly salient of what is going to become of him. The thought crosses his mind that he was forced into this. “If it weren’t fate, if the white man didn’t want me here, none of this would have happened if I was in their same situation” (Wright 388). The shame and resentment of the novel echoes from Bigger’s mind, as it has since he’s been in contact with the white oppressor. He knows that no matter how helpful the whites try to be, they only demean and hold him down more. He is strong enough to defeat the self-loathing that comes with one’s actions in order to avoid punishment. Not once does Bigger plead for mercy, not once did he feel sorry or upset for killing Mary Dalton. It was accident, nevertheless, and what good would it do to feel sorry for it now?

But he does think about it, regretfully as it may be. He considers the fear of death, and considers what he has done. Bigger actually sits down and does some thinking. Which is quite a scary thing for someone who is going to die. He laments for the fact that Max treated him like a man, and asked him questions that makes him think: “sometimes I wish you hadn’t asked me them questions… They made me think, and thinking’s scared me a little” (Wright 387). He knows of his misfortunes now. He spent time and reevaluated his actions and the consequences thereof. Bigger Thomas now needs to cope with his actions, and their repercussions. He knows of his problems and now must fact up to them. Ultimately, Bigger Thomas is a parasite, growing and changing based on the environment that surrounds it, soaking up everything that makes it function correctly. These morally raped and depraved humans biologically adapt with the sole purpose of success. Unfortunately, the only way to obtain success, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in their situation is to draw their livelihood from the bloodlines of others. And sometimes these for these parasites to ascend, they create a situation that is detrimental strictly of coincidence. So it is for many criminals that have done acts of violence, whether accidental or not, they have been done by circumstance, in due course demonstrating that morality, and conscience, are not the independent variables, but the dependent ones, constantly changing and evolving to the structure of their environments.

Works Cited
Butler, Robert Ed. The Critical Response To Richard Wright. Westport: Greenwood Press. 1995.

Butler, Robert. The Emergence of a New Black Hero. Boston: Twayne Publishing. 1991.

Calvin, John. The Institutes of Christian Religion. Henry Beveridge Trans. London: Bonham Norton. 1599

Ehrlich, Paul R. Human Natures: Genes, Cultures, and The Human Prospect. Washington DC: Island Press. 2000.

Ellison, Ralph W. Invisible Man. New York: Vintage. 1995.

Hakutan, Yoshinobu. Richard Wright and Racial Discourse. London: University of Missouri Press. 1996.

Kinnamon, Keneth and Michael Fabre. Conversations With Richard Wright. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press. 1993.

Kinnamon, Keneth ed. Critical Essays on Richard Wright’s Native Son. New York: Twayne Publishers. 1997.

Kinnamon, Keneth ed. New Essays on Native Son. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1990.

Lerner, Richard. Concepts and Theories of Human Development. New York: Random House. 1986.

Magnusson, David ed. The lifespan development of individuals: behavioral, neurobiological, and psychosocial perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1996.

Wright, Richard. Native Son. New York: Harper and Row. 1940.

Naturalism in Native Son

Richard Wright's novel Native Son is a frightening and disturbing portrait of an individual rejected by society. The novel's protagonist is the ignorant, violent, and detestable Bigger Thomas, a young black boy living in 1930's Chicago. To help his family, Bigger reluctantly begins working as a chauffeur for the Daltons, the family of a millionaire real-estate magnate. When young Mary Dalton and her Communist boyfriend Jan Erlone try to reach out to Bigger, he reacts as his environment has conditioned him to: in hate, fear, and shame. Later that night, he carries a drunk Mary up to her room and seems on the verge of taking sexual advantage of the girl. Frantically fearful of discovery when her blind mother enters the room, he accidentally smothers her to death with a pillow, afterwards burning her body in the Daltons' furnace—first beheading her so that she will fit inside. After this gruesome murder, Bigger chillingly accepts what he has done, and realizes that it has made him feel free for the first time, fully responsible for his own actions. His behavior leads him to rape and murder his girlfriend Bessie in the same state of frantic fear, and eventually sends him to the electric chair. In exploring the character of Bigger Thomas, Wright's purpose is to show how a society that perpetuates racist oppression leads naturally to the creation of emotionally stunted and alienated individuals who act in the only way their society has taught them to know: in hatred, fear, and violence. Wright uses setting and symbolism to emphasize the literary philosophy of naturalism, showing that it is Bigger's social environment that has molded him into a violent and brutal person. An essay, written by Wright, explaining Native Son, is entitled How "Bigger" Was Born. The title refers to Wright's inspiration for the character— but the title is a perfect summary: the novel is about the creation of a person like Bigger.

Naturalism is a philosophy and style of writing that emphasizes the animalistic and instinctive qualities of human behavior, portraying human actions as environmentally determined. It also stresses the eternal conflict between man and his environment— either the amoral and uncaring forces of Nature, or a society in which the subject is marginalized. Native Son's Bigger is a prime example of such a subject. Though the white-dominated society about him, in which whites "own the world," (pg. 23) and a white businessman is "like a god" (pg. 199), utterly excludes and disregards him, he is nevertheless its "Native Son." He is not an evil foreign influence; he is as intimate a product of the society about him as a son is to his father. In a world where blacks are oppressed and an emotional climate of fear, hatred, and mistrust pervades all race relationships, Bigger's actions are an inevitable outcome. Bigger realizes this, feeling that "His crime seemed natural; he felt that all his life had been leading to something like this." (pg. 119)

The setting of Native Son constantly emphasizes the philosophy of naturalism by portraying Bigger's environment as uncaring, corrupt, and oppressive. The opening scene of the novel depicts the conditions in which Bigger's family lives: a "tiny, one-room apartment" (pg. 2), rat-infested and crowded. The black ghettos of Chicago's South Side are a "world of steel and stone... hard... mechanical" (pg. 16). The South Side is the only area of Chicago in which blacks are allowed to live, a "prescribed area, [a] corner of the city tumbling down from rot" (pg. 199). Bigger's constant consciousness of this inequality is directly stated as one of the reasons for his actions: "He would jar [the whites] out of their senses," (pg. 199) he decides after thinking about racist renting policies. The ghetto buildings are old, ready to collapse. "There were many empty buildings with black windows, like blind eyes, buildings like skeletons standing with snow on their bones in the winter winds" (pg.198). The city, though so alien to the natural world, exhibits the same amoral disregard for Bigger as does Nature, so is compared to Nature's most savage realms: "the streets were long paths leading through a dense jungle, lit here and there with torches held high in invisible hands." (pg. 169)

Though the terrible conditions of ghetto life alone could probably create a person like Bigger, Native Son's setting is more than merely physical-it is the social milieu in which the oppression of the black race is institutionalized, in which every black knows that whites "say black folks are dogs. They don't let you do nothing but what they want," (pg. 406) where "they draw a line and say for you to stay on your side of the line. They don't care if there's no bread over on your side. They don't care if you die." (pg. 407) The institutionalized racism of nearly every societal organism contributes to Bigger's character. Bigger is shaped by the blatant racism of the press, which describes Bigger as "a jungle beast...utterly untouched by the softening influences of modern civilization." (pg. 332-333) Bigger's alienation is increased by the cinema, which depicts blacks only as tribal African savages, and whites only as rich socialites (pg. 36). He is shoved aside by the real estate industry, which economically oppresses blacks, who "even though they could not get good jobs, paid twice as much as whites for the same kind of flats," (pg. 288) and which socially isolates them by allowing them to live only in the ghetto. His people are abused by the police, who badger and mistreat blacks, as described in How "Bigger" Was Born, which tells how police randomly arrest homeless blacks and torture them until they will confess to "any crime that handily happens to be unsolved and on the calendar." Society itself is in un-remitted opposition to Bigger and his race. The alienation and tenseness that Bigger feels comes from his relationship with the world around him, in which he is unceasingly aware of his apart-ness and of the ongoing antagonism between himself and white society. He reacts to his feelings, as he says, "only as I know how;" (pg. 406) the way his environment has conditioned him to react: in violence.

The symbolism used in Native Son also emphasizes naturalism in its contribution to the explanation of Bigger's plight. The juxtaposition of black and white objects is mentioned frequently. In an early scene, Bigger gazes "with childlike wonder" (pg. 16) at an airplane flying high above him, the white clouds contrasting starkly with the "black asphalt" (pg. 15) at his feet. The white clouds are a symbol of Bigger's hopes and dreams: that he can live as a part of the white world, that he could be allowed to "fly one of them things" (pg. 17). Bigger's wish is to have the freedom that flight symbolizes. His friend Gus, who watches the plane with him, replies, "If you wasn't black and if you had some money and if they'd let you go to that aviation school, you could fly a plane." (pg. 17) Of course, this will never happen. Bigger's reality is the grime of asphalt, not flight. Ironically, the second book of the novel is entitled "Flight"-though it refers to Bigger's ultimately unsuccessful attempts to avoid capture and possibly gain freedom.

The symbol of whiteness is also seen in the constant snowfall during the second book. White snow covers everything, representing the overwhelming power of the whites. As he flees the Daltons' home after Mary's burnt body is discovered, he falls into a snow bank: "snow was in his mouth, eyes, ears..." (pg. 254). The power of the whites is always felt in his life, throughout his being, just as he had said to Gus earlier in the novel: "'You know where the white folks live?'...Bigger doubled his fist and struck his solar plexus. 'Right down here in my stomach.'" (pg. 22) When he falls in the snow, he loses control of his bladder: "he had not been able to control the muscles of his hot body against the chilled assault of the wet snow" (pg. 254), just as he was unable to control his reactions to the white world around him, and murdered Mary Dalton. The snow, as a natural phenomenon, is another example of naturalistic imagery: Bigger pitted against his environment, against white society, battling the cold as he tries to escape.

One of the novel's most striking uses of symbolism occurs in the first pages. Upon waking, the Thomas family is beset by a "huge black rat." (pg. 3) The creature, ferociously hardened by its environment, attacks Bigger, who first traps it by blocking its hole with a crate, and then viciously kills it. "Bigger took a shoe and pounded the rat's head, crushing it, cursing hysterically" (pg. 4). The rat comes to symbolize Bigger himself, and foreshadows his fate. Like the rat, Bigger is conditioned by his environment; like the rat, he acts instinctively with violence when he sees himself threatened; like the rat, he becomes trapped by an ever enclosing mob of white vigilantes who comb the entire Black Belt of Chicago searching for him; and like the rat, he meets a violent fate, executed as a sacrifice to the howling, racist mob.

Ultimately, it is realized that Bigger himself is a prophetic symbol that foretells a future in which the tension of centuries of oppression will explode in anger and violence. The naturalistic philosophy of Native Son issues a warning: if the environment of oppression that society currently supports is not removed, a generation of people weaned on suffering and raised on injustice will come into mature being, and they will react in the only way they know.


Richard Wright's Criticism of Social Institutions

In Richard Wright's novel Native Son, direct and indirect criticism of social institutions plays a major role in the development of the novel's theme and its political message. By showing how American society was tragically broken in many ways, Wright issued a warning: that if the social environment of America did not change, brutal, emotionally damaged individuals like Bigger ignite the underlying social tension of the era and cause a terrible and violent upheaval in society.


The Press

Of all the social institutions Richard Wright criticizes in Native Son, the news media and press earn the dubious honor of bearing the most direct attacks. Through characterization of the newspapermen and excerpts of fictionalized news releases, Wright shows how the news media of his day presented a biased and sensationalistic viewpoint that held truth in low esteem.

Wright depicts the newspapermen who attach themselves to the Mary Dalton case as despicable vultures who care only about getting the juiciest news scoop. When Bigger Thomas, Native Son's equally detestable protagonist, first meets newsmen, he realizes that "they were harder than [Inspector] Britten, but in a more impersonal way, a way that was maybe more dangerous..." The newsmen are cynically emotionless; Bigger sees in them "a coldness that disregarded everybody." "They seemed like men out for keen sport," Bigger thinks. Indeed, the newsmen attempt to bribe Bigger for information and bully Inspector Britten to get him to reveal more information, saying "You're putting us in the position of having to print anything we can get about this case." The men obviously have no commitment to journalistic integrity, knowing that what sells is sensation, not truth.

The newspapers, in the grand tradition of Yellow Journalism, print sensationalistic stories that are more speculation than fact. They write of "drunken sexual orgies" in connection with Mary Dalton's disappearance, using emotionally loaded words: "in the grip of a brain-numbing sex passion," "little Mary Dalton," "the frantic parents," and "the radical's contradictory story". Only hours after Mary Dalton's burned body is discovered, the newspapers carry headlines stating: "AUTHORITIES HINT SEX CRIME," irresponsibly fueling the fires of hatred toward the black community. Blatant racism pervades articles on Bigger's trial, with descriptions of Bigger suggesting that he is an inhuman monster: "His lower jaw protrudes obnoxiously, reminding one of a jungle beast." The newspapers perpetuate and inflame public feelings of hatred towards blacks while ignoring truth and concentrating only on the sale of more papers.

The importance of Wright's denouncement of the press lies in the fact that the novel's news articles are only partially fictionalized: Wright took many lines directly from real articles about a black rapist and murderer. Since the minds of the people, as Bigger' lawyer Max says, "are ... conditioned by the press of the nation," the press must be made responsible and truthful, or justice suffers and oppression is increased.


The Cinema

Richard Wright's criticism of the cinema in Native Son is similar to his criticism of the news media. While the newspapers present a sensationalized view of reality, the movies exhibit a romanticized one. In Bigger Thomas' debased existence, the movies are a form of escape. The movies contribute to a culture of violence. Though in Wright's time films did not depict the gratuitous violence they regularly do today, they give people like Bigger a feeling that they must be in a state of heightened sensation to be truly living--heightened sensation that can be found in movies, pulp fiction, sex, drugs, crime, and violence. Wright condemns this attitude by showing how it is perpetuated by society and by depicting the its inevitable result.

Bigger's life cycles through "rhythms" of "indifference and violence; periods of abstract brooding and periods of intense desire; moments of silence and moments of anger." In a oppressive environment, his life is filled with a constant tension, which rich sensation can momentarily overcome. "Bigger felt an urgent need to hide his growing and deepening hysteria... he longed for a stimulus powerful enough to focus his attention and drain off his energies." Though movies fill this role at first, they seem to act as a sort of 'gateway drug,' leading him to ever more violent methods of release. Early in the novel, Bigger and a friend go to the movies and, in the dark of the theater, masturbate. The sexual release of masturbation in the setting of the movie theater reinforces Wright's theme. Later, Bigger's lawyer Max refers to the incident, which was reported at the trial. "Was not Bigger Thomas' relationship to his girl a masturbatory one? Was not his relationship to the whole world on the same plane?" he asks.

The movies' contribution to the culture of violence, then, is not violence itself, but a reinforcement of the attitude toward living that encourages violent and forceful living. The release of tension that Bigger and other blacks experience at the cinema is only a sublimation of this violent world-view. Because his entire life has been lived in a quest for intense feeling, it seems only natural to the reader, and to Bigger himself, that his life culminates in murder and rape.


The Church

Religion has often been used to justify oppression. During the Middle Ages, Church Hierarchies were used to make peasants think that their subjugation by the feudal system was God's will. In Native Son, Richard Wright reveals how religion pacifies the black community and makes them unwilling to initiate social change.

Bigger recognizes the escapist power of religion. "What his mother had was Bessie's whiskey, and Bessie's whiskey was his mother's religion," he thinks, referring to his girl Bessie's alcoholism, which she uses to dull the pain of everyday life. By giving people hope that the pain of this world will be satisfied by justice in the afterlife. The preacher who visits Bigger's cell tells him "this worl' ain' our home," and that life is "sufferin'." While what he says is true, he wants Bigger to accept it and trust in God to give him justice, not resist the world, the white society that shuts blacks out of the world and forces them to accept suffering. Wright and Bigger see religion as a passive force. Though the hope it brings to the blacks is positive, Bigger cannot accept it. "I wanted to be happy in this world, not out of it," he says. He sees that escape through religion plays into the hands of the white establishment. "The white folks like for us to be religious," he says, "then they can do what they want to with us."

Ironically, Wright did not foresee that it would be religious organizations, such as the church of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., that would lead to positive social change for black people during the latter half of the century. Perhaps, though, Wright's ideas made black church leaders realize the futility of social passivity.


The Courts

Richard Wright's criticism of the court system is based on a belief that the system is corrupt and as racially biased as the newspapers. The third part of the novel, the book entitled "Fate," describes Bigger's trial in detail, and shows how justice was clouded. Racial bias, pandering, and the public pressure of mob emotion combine to deny Bigger any chance at justice. Wright shows how the judicial system is not immune to the prejudices of society, and can be manipulated for political reasons.

The characters of State Attorney Buckley and the coroner show that racism exists in the court system. Buckley, the court-appointed prosecutor, exhibits extremes of racism, calling Bigger a "half-human black ape," showing how the most powerful people in society perpetuate and support racism. The coroner and Buckley both turn the trial into a circus, exhibiting Bessie's mutilated, dead body, even though it serves no point in the trial. Though Max recognizes that they are "criminally appealing to mob emotion," the judge lets the men continue. Buckley and the coroner make accusations against the Communist party as they question Jan Erlone, Mary's boyfriend and a Communist leader. The coroner insinuates that Jan used Mary as "bait" to lure Bigger into the Communist party, and that he was complicit in Mary's murder. At one point in the trial, Buckley opens the window of the courthouse, allowing "the rumbling mutter of the vast mob" to "[sweep] in" to the court. Max objects, saying "it is an attempt to intimidate this Court." The judge sustains Max's objection, but Buckley's action shows that the mob is influencing the state's own prosecution.

The staining of the court proceedings by emotion and racism shows that the courts are not objective and unbiased, and that Bigger never had a chance at receiving justice. Wright shows that the judicial system is not used to correct social problems or rehabilitate criminals, but is instead used to exact revenge. This problem is still exists, as can be seen in statistics about the death penalty. Today, blacks receive this punishment much more frequently than whites, especially when the victims of their crimes are white. Wright's criticism remains relevant.


The Electoral System

Though Wright's criticism of the electoral system in Native Son is less pronounced than his critiques of other institutions, it still offers important insight. One of Native Son's important themes deals with power relationships, and the several instances in which Wright gives readers a glimpse of deeper political corruption show how power leads to greed and selfishness.

Early in the novel, Bigger sees men putting up an election poster of State Attorney Buckley. The poster features the prophetic warning "YOU CAN'T WIN!", and Bigger comments, "I bet that sonofabitch rakes off a million bucks in graft a year... You crook, you let whoever pays you off win!" The political system of rewards for campaign supporters and donors was very much in effect during Wright's time. During Max's defense of Bigger, he asks "Who provoked this hysteria so that they might profit by it?", and he answers, "The State Attorney knows, for he promised the Loop bankers that if he were re-elected demonstrations for relief would be stopped!" Politicians like Buckley use their influence in law enforcement to gain powerful support. Buckley promises to manipulate the system for to the benefit of those who support his attempt to keep his powerful position. He uses his power not to help the people he is supposed to represent, but to serve his own self-centered greed and lust for power.

Buckley promotes himself using Bigger as a pawn. The newspapers comment on the possible effect Bigger's trial will have on Buckley's run for re-election, and Jan confronts Buckley outright, "You're afraid that you won't be able to kill this boy before the April elections, ...aren't you, Buckley?" Abuses of power seem to run rampant. The election system itself is also depicted as hopelessly broken, with Bigger talking of selling his own vote, and voting more than once in an election, even though he was under voting age the entire time.

Wright's fictional exposé of corruption mirrored what was happening in the real world, causing readers to see that the political system perpetuates injustice and leads to the creation of emotionally warped and brutal individual such as Bigger Thomas. Wright's criticism shows how political injustice mirrors social injustice.


The Real Estate Industry

Richard Wright uses Native Son to show how the real estate industry supported and perpetuated the social and economic oppression of blacks. Mr. Dalton, the father of murdered Mary Dalton, is a millionaire real estate magnate, who actually owns the building that Bigger's family rents a room in.

The real estate companies work together to ensure that blacks are economically oppressed by overcharging them. Seeing a sign advertising Mr. Dalton's "South Side Real Estate Company," Bigger thinks of how his family "paid eight dollars a week for one rat-infested room," four people living in one cramped and dirty space. Later, Bigger remembers that "he had heard it said that black people, even though they could not get good jobs, paid twice as much rent as whites for the same kid of flats." During Bigger's trial, Max questions Mr. Dalton, asking him about his business practices. When asked why he does not charge less for the terrible homes he rents to blacks, Dalton replies, "to charge them less would be unethical," because he would be "underselling [his] competitors." That there appears to be a sort of informal price lock on the rent of homes to Negroes, shows that the economic oppression of blacks has become institutionalized.

The prejudiced sale of real estate also socially isolates and oppresses blacks. They are only allowed to rent homes in a certain section of town, on the South Side of the "line," an unofficial demarcation that segregates black and white. Though there are housing shortages in the South Side, blacks can not rent homes outside of the prescribed area, which naturally encloses a ghetto, a section of the city "tumbling down from rot."

Wright shows how the racist policies of the real estate companies contributes to the brutal murders Bigger commits. "Mr. Dalton," asks Max, "do you think that the terrible conditions under which the Thomas family lived in one of your houses may in some way be related to the death of your daughter?" Richard Wright's novel exposes the racist practices of real estate firms and warns that they are breeding brutality and suffering through their support of oppression.


White Businesses in the Ghetto

Wright exposes yet another instrument of economic oppression in his criticism of white businesses in black ghettos. Just as the real estate industry uses discriminatory renting practices, ghetto businesses owned by whites drain the resources of black communities but give nothing back, siphoning all the riches possible out of the ghetto and leaving only economically desiccated remains.

As he flees the vigilante mobs that are methodically searching the city for him, Bigger grown hungry and stops at a grocery store in the Black Belt. Though he would rather patronize a "Negro business establishment, he knew there were not many of them. Almost all businesses in the Black Belt were owned by Jews, Italians, and Greeks." These groups are still marginalized minorities, but with their mostly white skin, they occupy a higher place than blacks. Since these ethnic groups live in different parts of the city, the Black Belt has a lopsided economy that shifts money out of black communities. The only business opportunities for blacks are "funeral parlors; white undertakers refused to bother with dead black bodies."

Price gouging is also present in these white business, which further destabilizes the economies of black communities. "Bread sold here," thinks Bigger, "for five cents a loaf, but across the 'line', where white folks lived, it sold for four." Since blacks who venture into white territory are putting their lives in danger, they are forced to accept higher prices for inferior goods. While Bigger is in jail, he hears the cries of a black intellectual, who is being imprisoned: "...you dump all the stale foods into the Black Belt and sell them for more than you can get anywhere else!" he accuses.

The economic oppression the blacks suffer under only adds to the violent tension that builds up under these terrible circumstances. By illustrating in Bigger the eventual violent explosions that will result from oppression, Wright urges readers to take notice and begin righting the wrongs of society.


The System of Charity

Though Wright could probably have increased sympathy for his startlingly unlikable protagonist by making Mary Dalton's family symbols of society's wrongs, by making them racist and prejudiced, he does not. Instead, Mr. and Mrs. Dalton are philanthropists who donate to black charities and attempt to help Bigger by offering him a job, a room, and an education. Further, he does not make Bigger respond positively to their offers of help-he in fact makes Bigger's accidental murder of Mary come as a result of her friendly advances towards him. Through this, Wright shows that charity is not helpful to the black community, because it is misdirected, hypocritical, and selfishly motivated.

Dalton feels that his donations are based in compassion and sympathy, but he does not realize that he is not really easing the problems of the black community. Even after Bigger murders his daughter, he keeps donating, telling Max that "what this boy has done will not influence my relations with the Negro people. Why, only today I sent a dozen ping-pong tables to the South Side Boys' Club..." Max is aghast: "My God, man! Will ping-pong keep men from murdering? ...This boy and millions like him want a meaningful life, not ping-pong..." Dalton's efforts are misguided, as "tragically blind as [Mrs. Dalton's] sightless eyes". They are a layer of pretty paint over rotting wood, doing nothing to ease the fundamental wrongs of society. Even education for a select few blacks cannot really end social injustice. The efforts of the Daltons do not help ease the oppression of an entire race.

Mr. Dalton does not see that his philanthropy is hypocritical and, in a way, a justification for his exploitation of blacks. As his company gouges the black people of Chicago by charging them exorbitant rents, he donates. Max asks him, "...the profits you take from the Thomas family in rents, you give back to them to ease the pain of their gouged lives and to salve the ache of your own conscience?" If he really wanted to "see the blacks have a chance," as he says, he would use his power and influence to change his company's renting policy.

Wright shows how charity alone can never solve the problem of social injustice. While money can help in a superficial way, fundamental societal changes must take place before oppression can truly be relieved.

Node your homework seems popular for this node, and touched by the spirit of it all, I think I'll share one of my own.

Bigger is Better: Bigger and the Nietzschean Ideal

The development of the character Bigger in Richard Wright’s Native Son is strikingly unique and can be difficult for some to understand. Native Son was written, according to Wright, in light of some very serious meditation he had done on his own experiences with people he’d known, observations he’d made from his relationships with others, and a philosophic consideration of human development in a state of subjugation. Such thought echoes the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, a 19th century philosopher whose thought centered on a force he dubbed the will to power. Throughout Native Son, the character of Bigger can be described and understood in terms of Nietzschean philosophy---his development, struggle, and conclusion on the nature of himself all coincide with Nietzsche’s thought.

Wright’s conclusions on the state of man do not stop with political commentary. His examination of the human mind goes far beyond a statement about blacks in America and becomes something more universal, a consideration of something true on a larger scale. “I made the discovery that Bigger Thomas was not black all the time; he was white, too, and there were literally millions of him, everywhere” (Wright xiv). The fact of Wright’s and Bigger’s being black tends to halt any discussion of his text in the state of being regarded as something merely political---in fact, Wright’s later works (written after having gone to study with the French existentialists, upon whom Nietzsche’s conclusions had like influence) never managed to attain the height of fame that he had with his earlier, less philosophic writings. “The critical consensus dismissed Wright's philosophy and scolded him for straying from what they believed was his natural subject matter” (Brucker). It seems that there’s a certain reluctance in reading a black American author’s subject matter beyond the scope of issues specifically black-related.

In particular, it’s important for us to consider the novel Native Son in the context of Wright’s own commentary on its subject matter. One fact he makes expressly important is that the novel is based on the character of Bigger Thomas, and that the aspects of his individual character are the main topic of the novel. In fact, the plot itself (when the book was written) was an afterthought, and Wright was “not for one moment ever worried about it” (Wright xxvii). In the novel, Bigger undergoes some very important changes based on the events that surround him (and the decisions he makes in response to them), but at center what’s important about the novel is the property of his individual character. Bigger might strike us as shockingly amoral, unless we learn to regard him through a certain point of view. As I’ve mentioned, Nietzsche’s thought is most appropriate and useful in seeking out this understanding.

The starting point of Bigger’s development comes from the political commentary Wright makes on the state of America in his time---primarily, the state of the common black person as having been rendered incapable of achieving the status of respectable and capable individuals. The conflict of masters and slaves is a major theme in Nietzsche’s writings; for him, the relationship between masters and slaves is based on a system of written morals, rather than physical power. This that he calls the “slave morality” holds in place those who he would regard as truly virtuous, the strong and powerful who rightfully rule---a “master morality” causes those in power to consider themselves as “good” for holding a position of rule over the “slaves.” Nietzsche traces this back to the Jews in ancient Egypt:

The Jews---a people “born for slavery… the chosen people among the peoples…” have brought off that miraculous feat of an inversion of values, thanks to which life on earth has acquired a novel and dangerous attraction for a couple of millennia: their prophets have fused “rich,” “godless,” “evil,” “violent,” and “sensual” into one… (BGE 195)

The moral rule of the planet that came from this involves an established law based on morals that grew out of the “slave morality,” sympathizing with the common victim who is too weak to stand up and establish a rule of his own over his oppressors. This state of being restricted by the moral stronghold upon life is something that constricts spirits who possess within them what Nietzsche would consider virtue, a strong will to power. “It is the music in our conscience, the dance in our spirit, with which the sound of all puritan litanies, all moral homilies and old-fashioned respectability won’t go” (BGE 216). Bigger, over the course of Native Son, is in the process of learning to come to terms with this dance in his spirit. Of course, this process involves a great deal of rebellion, of asserting his will to power.

Early symptoms of Bigger’s virtue can be identified in the way that he engages his peers. When Gus challenges Bigger’s integrity in wanting to commit robbery, Bigger reacts by asserting his physical power upon the boy until he’s so established himself that he commands the boy to lick his knife. So Nietzsche relates the early development of the free spirit: “That commanding something which the people call ‘the spirit’ wants to be master in and around its own house and wants to feel that it is master; it has the will from multiplicity to simplicity, a will that ties up, tames, and is domineering and truly masterful.” (BGE 230). Bigger’s spirit finds nourishment wherever his will has free roam, and he seeks out those situations by reverting to physical force---the strength of his character most able to directly control his surroundings, by threatening those around him. This strength of will is something Nietzsche identifies as a power nourished by the state of Bigger’s life. “The discipline of suffering, of great suffering---do you not know that only this discipline has created all enhancements of man so far?” (BGE 225). Bigger has indeed undergone suffering, and both Wright and Nietzsche seem to agree on the consequence of such an environment upon an individual spirit: “The moment a situation became so that it exacted something of him, he rebelled. That was the way he lived; he passed his days trying to defeat or gratify powerful impulses in a world he feared” (Wright 44).

The specific themes in Wright beyond the power and nature of Bigger’s willpower are likewise similar to Nietzsche’s, while along the same lines, and the similarities between some of the language used by the two writers makes it difficult to believe that it was any coincidence that the character of Bigger so closely resembles the philosophy of Nietzsche. First, there is much argument made by both men about the nature of religion, and their conclusions are similar. “High spirituality itself,” Nietzsche says, “exists only as the ultimate product of moral qualities” (219). For Nietzsche, the existence of religion is something merely to placate the slaves, to promise them the things denied them in life in some sort of afterlife. It is the utmost result of moral oppression, and its purpose is solely to hold in place the slaves, that the masters might maintain their grip on them without any fear of revolt. Nietzsche describes religion in the same way that Bigger discusses it in a conversation with Max, when he describes how he felt about organized religion. “I didn’t like it. There was nothing in it. Aw, all they did was sing and shout and pray all the time. And it didn’t get ‘em nothing. All the colored folks do that, but it don’t get ‘em nothing. The white folks got everything.” (Wright 329)

Bigger’s objection to organized religion is based on his having come to a conclusion on the nature of himself, and the relationship between the masters and slaves of his world. The problem that religion presents is a cheapening of his individuality---if there’s an afterlife, then there is no inequality, and his will to power is meaningless. The strength of his conviction allows him to reject this equalizing notion of an afterlife and exist as he has become---a free spirit, unbound by the moral and religious chains in which he’s been bound.

I’d like to explore his freedom a bit more explicitly, because the fine print of his newfound strength of character is still deeply embedded in Nietzschean principles, and again, Wright explicitly uses Nietzschean language in his description of Bigger’s newfound liberation. “He had murdered and had created a new life for himself. It was something that was all his own, and it was the first time in his life he had had anything that others could not take from him” (Wright 101). Nietzsche’s primary value in the free spirit, as he makes clear in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, places primary importance on the role of the free man as creator. From the section On The Three Metamorphoses:

To create new values---that even the lion cannot do; but the creation of freedom for oneself for new creation---that is within the power of the lion. The creation of freedom for oneself and a sacred “No” even to duty---for that, my brothers, the lion is needed. To assume the right to new values---that is the most terrifying assumption for a reverent spirit that would bear much. Verily, to him it is preying, and a matter for a beast of prey. He once loved “thou shalt” as most sacred: now he must find illusion and caprice even in the most sacred, that freedom from his love may become his prey: the lion is needed for such prey. (TSZ 139)

The key word here is creation, and what is meant by it is the creation of new values, of a freedom from traditionally established moral obstacles to one’s own willpower. The character of Bigger asserts himself by the virtue of creation---what he has created for himself, as Wright describes, is a set of distinct and personal values based on the strength of his will. He does not allow himself to be restrained by morals anymore, and in doing so, he comes to a firm and sincere belief about his true self, which is why he can so comfortably tell Max towards the end that he’s “all right” (Wright 392).

It is interesting that Buckley, when he is concluding his prosecution, says that “the intellectual and moral faculties of mankind may as well be declared impotent” if Bigger is found to be innocent (Wright 352). The irony in this statement is clear from a Nietzschean point of view---Bigger has in fact declared impotent the intellectual and moral faculties of mankind, and in doing so, has concluded on the nature of himself and shaken off the chains placed on him by his white masters. In order to understand Wright’s argument about Bigger’s character, and the virtue of his free spirit, we must be willing to make similar reservations about our moral prejudices, and look further than the socio-political elements of Wright’s brilliant novel to see the Bigger picture.

Cited:

Brucker, Carl. “Richard Wright.” Popular Fiction in America, Beacham Publishing, 1987.

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm.Beyond Good And Evil.” Basic Writings of Nietzsche. Ed/Tr. Walter Kaufmann. Modern Library: New York, 2000.

Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. “Thus Spake Zarathustra.” The Portable Nietzsche. Ed/Tr. Walter Kaufmann. Penguin: New York, 1976.

Wright, Richard. Native Son. Perennial: 2001.

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