Notes of a Native Son - Many Thousands Gone Summary & Analysis

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Summary

“Many Thousands Gone,” is Baldwin’s characterization of the psychology of the American Negro as well as a penetrating criticism of Richard Wright’s celebrated Native Son, a protest novel Baldwin sees as reinforcing, rather than challenging, the American fantasy of the brutal and frightening Negro. The essay also addresses in passing questions of enduring interest to Baldwin: the role of the artist and the importance of faithfully representing complexity rather than reducing it to simplistic tropes.

The essay begins by discussing the uneasiness black Americans create in the minds of white Americans. American blacks, Baldwin says, have been unable to tell their own story and the story that whites have told about them is a gloomy story that eliminates any human component and confines blacks to the social, statistical arena of slums and crime reports. The reason black Americans make white Americans fundamentally uneasy is...

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This section contains 1,790 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Notes of a Native Son Study Guide
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