Native Sonby Richard Wright
Original publication date: 1940
This week is banned books week in the United States. All week I will be highlighting banned, challenged, and censored books I own and have read.
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, Richard Wright’s novel is just as powerful today as when it was written — in its reflection of poverty and hopelessness, and what it means to be black in America.
Status:Challenged in the United States (citation).
Reason for challenge in the U.S.: Challenged by parents in both schools and libraries for profanity, sexual content, and violence (citation)
My thoughts: Hmm, I’m starting to see a trend here. Gifted author writes gritty, realistic book about a person or persons dealing with political and/or economic oppression and/or systemic racism. Parents complain about the violence, sex, and language that is what makes the book so realistic. It makes me wonder if, at least some of the time, people are actually uncomfortable with these gritty depictions of oppression (even subconsciously) and complain about the language, sex, or violence as a way of dealing with it.
I enjoyed “Native Son,” if enjoyed is the right word, since it is a novel of hopelessness and violence. It is remarkably well-written, and the reader can truly feel Bigger’s fear and his sensations of being trapped by his circumstances. This is a book I heartily recommend for its depiction of race relations in the ‘non-segregated’ North in the early part of the 20th century.
Your Turn: Have you read “Native Son” or any of Wright’s other work? What did you think? What would it be like to feel as though you were so trapped by your circumstances that violence seems to be the only option? What would it be like to know that others see you as less than human?
Check out my Banned Books Week Spotlights all week, every day at 2 pm Central through Saturday, Octobter 4th.
Rebecca of The Book Lady’s Blog is doing Banned Books Week Spotlights as well, every morning at 9 am. Check her out as well!