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Free Barron's Booknotes-Native Son by Richard Wright-Free Online Summary
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1. Compare the character of Bigger Thomas in Native Son to that of the young Richard Wright in Black Boy.

2. Which of Native Son's subsidiary characters are convincing to you, and which aren't?

3. Use psychological and sociological studies of black rage to evaluate the validity of Wright's characterization of Bigger.

4. Is the young Richard Wright of Black Boy only a rebel against his family or is he also a product of that family's influences in a more positive sense too? Explain.

5. Does Wright succeed in making Bigger a sympathetic character? Is that his goal? Explain.


1. Compare Wright's attitude toward the black church in Native Son and in Black Boy. Does he criticize only or does he see a positive dimension too? What evidence can you offer?

2. Evaluate James Baldwin's critique of Richard Wright in the essays "Many Thousands Gone," "Everybody's Protest Novel," and "Poor Richard." Is Baldwin correct in his criticism of Wright's portrayal of black community life?

3. How does Wright view male-female relationships? Draw evidence from both Native Son and Black Boy.

4. Evaluate today's mass media in the light of Wright's critique in Native Son. Are any of his criticisms still valid? What has changed?


1. Identify the patterns of imagery in Native Son. How do they affect the novel's atmosphere and its meaning?

2. What did Wright gain and what did he lose in narrating Native Son from Bigger's point of view?

3. How does Wright use setting symbolically in Native Son?


1. How much of Native Son's ideas come from the Communist Party of Wright's time? How do Native Son's ideas differ from those of the Communist Party?

2. How accurate was Wright's portrayal of the racism of his time? What is your evidence?

3. What are Native Son's literary roots? Consider both the tradition of literary naturalism and that of the Gothic horror story.


1. Do you find Native Son too melodramatic? Explain.

2. Does the case Max makes for Bigger convince you? Would it be likely to convince a judge? How would you argue Bigger's case?

3. Is Native Son dated? Is it still meaningful and relevant? Which parts do you find dated and which still relevant?

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Free Barron's Booknotes-Native Son by Richard Wright-Free Chapter Summary

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