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Native Son Themes
Little Words, Big Ideas
Fate and Free Will
Native Son suggests that we are only partially in control of or responsible for our own actions. In part, the environment in which we are raised creates certain knee-jerk reactions and also present...
Fear is the dominant emotion that the novel’s protagonist Bigger feels. Fear results from the lack of power to control one’s own situation. The protagonist is especially fearful of whit...
Everything Bigger does in Native Son has a relationship to the color of his skin. Why? Because whites control the labor, legal, religious, educational, and social institutions that dictate where an...
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 cle...
Next to fear, shame is the emotion that the protagonist feels most frequently. Shame is associated with his family’s poverty, the color of his skin, his own powerlessness, and the powerlessne...
This novel asks who is to blame for criminality – the criminal or the society that the criminal lives in? Native Son suggests that the society creates the criminal. A lawyer in the novel impl...
Religion provides comfort for some of the characters in the book, but the protagonist comes to believe that religion contributes to the exploitation of black people by making them satisfied with th...
Though the protagonist has a mother and two siblings, he believes he’s alone in the world for most of the novel. It takes him being in jail and learning that his infamy has narrowed his littl...
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