Study Guide

Native Son Fear

By Richard Wright

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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  of Native Son is especially fearful of white people and the power they wield over him—ordinary white people, wealthy white people, white people who control the legal and justice system.

As the novel progresses, we realize that Bigger’s fear is symbolic of similar fear felt by much of black society. Fear also leads to terrible and unintended consequences; the protagonist’s fear leads him to hurt his friends and even murder two women.

Questions About Fear

  1. Which characters feel fear and why do they feel it?
  2. What does fear motivate each character to do?
  3. To what extent is fear a factor in racial tensions? To what extent are other emotions a factor in racial tensions?

Chew on This

Fear is the motivating factor for Bigger Thomas’s crimes.

Fear always leads to negative consequences in Native Son.

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