Native Son Rhetorical Analysis

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Brrrrrriiiing! The shrill scream of an alarm clock is meant to pull even the deepest sleeper out of slumber, shattering the blissful unawareness as one is jolted back into reality. Richard Wright put pen to paper and created a metaphorical alarm clock for American society. Native Son, published in 1940, is that warning call to shake people out of complacency and wake them up to the reality of the American racial divide. Wright uses the gritty story of Bigger to warn whites that oppressing and degrading black Americans will perpetuate the violence and hatred. In order to show the plight of black Americans, Native Son begins in Bigger’s squalid one-bedroom apartment that he shares with his mother, sister and brother. It is a bleak, rat-infested…show more content…
For instance, Bigger decides to go see the movie Trader Horn to distract himself from the growing fear of robbing Blum. Wright notes that Bigger “looked at Trader Horn unfold and saw pictures of naked black men and women whirling in wild dances […]” (33). Laws dictated by white supremacy mandate racial segregation, which encourages the brute stereotype. It is a vicious cycle: white society forces black people into poverty and leaves them with little opportunity for success. While black people struggle, the media constantly portrays them as animalistic brutes. In turn, it reinforces the stereotype in the minds of white people, which in turn feeds their fear and contempt of black people, particularly black men. Fear is a powerful motivator and white people justify segregation as the only way to protect white society from the “animalistic brutes.” Bigger is well aware of the instant judgments white people make when they see a black man. For example, when Bigger goes to the Dalton’s house, he thinks, “Suppose a police officer saw him wandering in a white neighborhood like this? It would be thought that he was trying to rob or rape somebody,” (44). In the minds of white people, black people, especially black men, are a threat. They use fear as a just reason to subjugate black Americans. Bigger knows the white world is set against him and he can’t do anything about it. The…show more content…
However, he doesn’t spare black people and forces them to see that their submission to the status quo only perpetuates racism. Violence doesn’t achieve anything either. Bigger is not a hero imbued with every good virtue. Sadly, Wright notes, “In all of [Bigger’s] life these two murders were the most meaningful things that had ever happened to him,” (239). He is a man who reacts with violence and confirms racist whites’ fears about black men. In a world that seems utterly hopeless, Wright offers hope and a way to address the racial divide. When Jan visits Bigger in jail, he says he isn’t angry at Bigger for framing him. Jan, a white man, understands how he confused, shamed and terrified Bigger by ignoring the social taboos that has governed Bigger’s life. In order to extend an olive branch, Jan recruits his friend, Boris A. Max to be Bigger’s lawyer. Bigger meets Max and slowly begins to see whites as humans. Max does not treat Bigger as a lowly black man or a murderer. He speaks to Bigger like he would any other man. Max’s nonjudgmental attitude reassures Bigger and “evoke[s] again in him that urge to talk, to tell, to try to make his feelings known. A wave of excitement flood[s] him. He [feels] that he ought to be able to reach out with his bare hands and carve from naked space the concrete, solid reasons why he had murdered,” (348). Normally a reticent character

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