Review: Native Son by Richard Wright

Synopsis: Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright's powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America. Source

Plot: I had to read this book for school, so I didn't pick this off of the shelf out of interest. That doesn't mean I wasn't riveted by this book. I have to talk about the controversy behind this book. My school board voted for the unabridged version and that created some parents to get other parents to have their kids read another type of book. (The alternative was A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines.) The unabridged version of the book has certain scenes that were cut out in the abridged version. I am glad that we read the unabridged version because you weren't blinded from anything. You had all the facts laid out in front of you and you made you decision on whether or not you like Bigger Thomas. The abridged version might have wavered those feelings. The plot did cultivate discussions throughout my class and created the classic topic of race. Along with race, the novel deals with poverty, murder, rape, and prison. The plot was definitely unique, but was graphic as well as frustrating.

Characters: Bigger Thomas-I hate him. I could never like him and it was hard to get through the book when you didn't even like the main character. There is no way I can think of him as a protagonist because he never did anything good. He used people, hurt people, killed people, and only thought of himself. Even in the ending, he twisted his reasoning around to make sense of what he had done. I couldn't believe how ignorant he was to not only what he had done, but to his and others beliefs.

Cover: I wish the book had more details than just Bigger. On the shelf, I would have skimmed over it without a second thought. I guess this book doesn't need an interesting cover because it is a classic.

Overall Rating: I gave this book a three out of four. This book is a classic and I have to commend Wright for the spectacular writing style and development of the book. I always say this, if you can make me hate the person who it is intended for, you have a talent. It takes a lot to make someone completely hate a fictional character, so when it is done, this book deserves commending. It is a great book to have for a school or book club because it arises controversial topics in a stylish way. I recommend anyone looking for a good classic read to read this.
Peace and Fangs,
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