The Style, Point Of View, Form And Structure Of Native Son, By Richard Wright

1169 words - 5 pages

Richard Wright, in his novel, Native Son, favors short, simple,

blunt sentences that help maintain the quick narrative pace of the

novel, at least in the first two books. For example, consider the

following passage: "He licked his lips; he was thirsty. He looked

at his watch; it was ten past eight. He would go to the kitchen

and get a drink of water and then drive the car out of the garage.

" Wright's imagery is often brutal and elemental, as in his frequently

repeated references to fire and snow and Mary's bloody head.                                           

  Though the style is similar to that of much of the detective fiction     

of Wright's day, some readers find it perfectly suited to a novel told     

from the point of view of an uneducated youth, driven by                   

overpowering feelings of fear, shame, and hate. Even the novel's           

cliches (stale or overused phrases or expressions like "...he had          

his destiny in his grasp") may fit a central character who gets his        

information about the larger world from the cliche-ridden mass media.      

  Wright worked within the literary tradition known as naturalism. The     

naturalists wanted to compile social data in such a way as to give a       

scientific explanation for their characters' behavior. But Wright goes     

beyond merely presenting social data. At times Native Son seems more       

like a nightmare than like social science. Note that Wright was also       

attracted to the horror and detective stories of Edgar Allan Poe.          

  One of Wright's stated goals was to make readers "feel" the heat         

of the Daltons' furnace and the cold of a Chicago winter. But he           

also makes the cold and heat symbols of the external forces aligned        

against Bigger and of the powerful emotions raging within him. Other        

patterns of imagery that appear throughout the novel include...

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