Justice may be blind: Crime & Punishment in Richard Wright's Native Son

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Richard Wright’s groundbreaking novel Native Son reflects a bleak image of American Judiciary. The trial of Bigger Thomas, the black protagonist, demonstrates how the racialized judiciary works as part of the Repressive State Apparatus to erase the possibility of black revival - shown in Bigger’s murder of Mary Dalton, daughter of a millionaire white family - and to keep intact the white superiority. In this novel, Wright takes the liberty of speaking through the character of Max, a communist and an emblem for Wright’s own political belief, to defend Bigger, his hero. It is through Max in the third book, titled Fate, that Wright exposes the crude facts of total racial segregation that lead young black boys towards rule-breaking and crime; for they know there is no room for a black person to rise above peripheries set for them by the white system. Bigger’s crime stands as his way of defining his stature on his own choice, uninfluenced by any white. Simultaneously, the third book shows the failure of the law in comprehending, only the question of guilty or not guilty, overlooking the background motive of the crime. Bigger Thomas was tried and sentenced to death only for his murder of Mary; his intentional murder of Bessie mattered nothing, because Bessie was a black. It is the way blacks are segregated from the American dream – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – and mechanism of panopticon that destines crime as the black way of life.So, whatever the black people do would be considered as a crime. At the end of his defense speech, Max argues that, if this cycle of judicial crime is not broken, it would increase into worse racial conflicts, a suggestion that is believed to be a prophecy about the bloody riots of the 1960s. The American judiciary and the public prosecution department is clearly understated in the novel

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