K.C. and Michelle Woolf

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Book Review - Native Son, by Richard Wright

I didn't like Bigger Thomas. From the beginning of this book to the end, I did not like him, and I thought it was appropriate when he was executed. I don't know if you are supposed to like Bigger, but if Richard Wright's purpose was to make the reader feel sympathy for a very unsympathetic character, he failed on me. Even the long oratory by his lawyer, about the social injustice Bigger faced, did not move me to empathy for him, after I had watched him show disrespect for his mother, commit petty theft, masturbate in public, kill a rich girl then mutilate and burn her body, attempt to profit from this killing, rape and murder his girlfriend, and show no remorse for any of these actions. Bigger Thomas was no Tom Robinson and Max is no Atticus Finch. I hope this doesn't mean I failed the racist test, but I can't help but believe in personal responsibility, even under very difficult circumstances. Bigger deserved to die, not because he was African American, but because he was a dirt bag. Regardless of the intended persuasions of this novel, it was brilliantly written and compelling to read. I wish I had read more of Richard Wright's stuff earlier, even if he was a communist.

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