by Richard Wright
Native Son Theme of Power
The world in Native Son is divided between those who have power (whites) and those who do not (blacks). Power is intimately connected to race. However, it is also connected to wealth, as we see clearly with the Capitalist vs. Communist fight played out in the courthouse and in society at large. So who rules the roost? Wealthy whites, of course. Much of this novel highlights the injustice of power being wielded by this single, privileged group.
Questions About Power
- Who has power and who lacks power in this novel? What personal attributes is power associated with? Why?
- Is there ever a moment when Bigger feels powerful? Is he actually powerful at those moments or not?
- When Bigger feels powerless, what is his response? Why is it significant? Do other characters have a similar response when they feel powerless?
- Think about the characters in the book that seek power. Why do they want power? Do they all want power for the same reasons?
Chew on This
The white characters in the book, like the Daltons, are ignorant about the power they possess.