Native Son Themes

This Study Guide consists of approximately 85 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Native Son.
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Race and Racism

The central event in the novel is the murder of Mary Dalton, a white woman. Ironically, whites are more infuriated by the idea that Bigger presumably raped her than the fact that he killed her. But he did not rape her. The woman he did rape and murder —his girlfriend Bessie Mears—is forgotten by white courts and white society. With this stark contrast, Wright suggests the great racial chasm that exists between blacks and whites. It is the image of Mary in a newsreel that inspired Bigger to take the job so that he might be closer to whites. He decides that by proximity he might learn how they make all their money. The film encourages him to pursue the American dream even though he is already excluded from it.

Naturalism

The theme of naturalism—how a character's environment influences the character...

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This section contains 440 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Native Son Study Guide
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Novels for Students
Native Son from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.