Fear in "Native Son" by Richard Wright.

Topics: Black people, White people, Race and Ethnicity Pages: 4 (1372 words) Published: December 8, 2005
In Richard Wright's "Native Son", emotions are a very important element, especially that of fear. Blacks are afraid of whites, whites are afraid of blacks, women are afraid of men, and everyone is afraid of communists. In the novel, however, no fear is as important as the fears that Bigger Thomas feels. If it weren't for fear, nothing would happen in the novel. Fear is a catalyst for Bigger that, without which, Bigger would be living the same life and nothing would change. Fear is the driving force behind many of Bigger Thomas's actions and decisions in the novel, and fear envelops his life. Among these fears are the fear of white people, and the fear of authority. Throughout the novel, Bigger also displays a perplexing fear of being treated as a person, rather than being treated as a black.

One major display of fear in "Native Son" is Bigger's fear of whites. An early example of this is that he is very reluctant to meet with Mr. Dalton and get a job with him. This is because Bigger is scared of being so close to white people, since they represent everything that he dislikes and believes is keeping him down. Another example of Bigger's fear of whites is that he is afraid of robbing a convenience store owned by a white man. He is not afraid of simply doing the action of robbing the store, but he is afraid only because the store owner is white, and he has never robbed a white store before. "'...You scared I'm going to say yes and you'll have to go through with the job'...'You calling me scared so nobody'll see how scared you is." Whites are also a source of fear for Bigger because they pretty much own his entire world and control most aspects of it. An eerie allusion to this is the campaign poster for the State's Attorney that had the candidates face on it with a finger pointed outward with the phrase "You can't win!" emblazoned on the top. It is almost as if this symbol of white authority is telling the black community that they cannot win or get ahead in life....
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