Celebrating Black History Month at the VCU Libraries
Reviewed by Robert Johnson, Education Services Librarian, Tompkins-McCaw Library
I can add nothing to the huge body of criticism praising the novel Native Son by Richard Wright. Other works by "Naturalists" such as Stephen Crane and Jack London pit humans as mere animals striving for survival against nature, a force we can't control or really understand. Wright's protagonist, Bigger Thomas, fights for survival against a force he can't control, and that force is the white society that keeps him down, that demoralizes him, that treats him as an animal. The introductory chapter (in which Bigger traps and kills a rat) is the story of the novel in a microcosm, an absolutely brilliant narrative device. This novel is a thought provoking, exciting, and powerful piece of work.