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Analysis

Literary Devices in Native Son

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

In the opening scene of the novel, Bigger must confront a rat in his family’s one-room apartment. He overcomes the rat by throwing a shoe at it and killing it. Some critics argued that the ra...

Setting

Bigger’s family lives in a beat-up, rat-infested one-room apartment in the segregated community of Chicago’s South Side. We recognize instantly that they are living in a hovel unfit for...

Narrator Point of View

The narrator tends to follow Bigger’s thoughts and actions, only revealing what’s going on in Bigger’s head. The narrator, however, seems to know more about Bigger than the charac...

Genre

Like most great books, Native Son can’t be shelved in just one section of your local bookstore. It combines elements of multiple genres, and that’s because it’s such a unique and visionary wo...

Tone

On the one hand, Bigger is a thoroughly dislikeable character. Even though we recognize that it is not his fault that he’s poor, and we recognize that circumstances have created his tendency...

Writing Style

Though Native Son is peppered heavily with dialogue, it is also interspersed with long passages that illuminate Bigger’s motivation. Even though the point of view of the book is Bigger’...

What’s Up With the Title?

The title is a slam on American society. Bigger Thomas, the novel’s main character, is a "native son" of America: he was born and raised as a black man in the U.S., so he’s a product of...

What’s Up With the Epigraph?

Even today is my complaint rebellious,My stroke is heavier than my groaning.– JobThe epigraph is a quotation from Job of the Old Testament. Job was a good guy – faithful to God and wild...

Plot Analysis

Bigger’s family lives in a dingy, rat-infested apartment and Bigger has the opportunity for a job that will give them a slightly higher standard of living.The novel starts with a scene in the...

Booker’s Seven Basic Plots Analysis: Tragedy

Bigger has the opportunity for a job with a wealthy white man.Bigger’s life is one where his every dream is immediately trampled down by oppression and harsh circumstances. As a black man in...

Three Act Plot Analysis

Bigger chickens out of robbing a white man, finds a job, is embarrassed by his employer’s daughter (Mary) and her boyfriend’s attempts to treat him as an equal, and accidentally kills M...

Trivia

Steaminess Rating

So, we really do think the sex scene in this book should be rated R, but you won’t believe us unless you have a recently published copy of the book; older versions cut out a lot of the sexual...

Allusions

The Bible: Genesis 1 (3.71); Genesis 2 (3.74-75); "the word became flesh," from John 1:14-18 (3.99)Adolf Hitler (2.251)Benito Mussolini (2.251) Japan colonizing China (2.251) Charles D. Tillman: "L...
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