Richard Wright, the author of ‘Black Boy’ is an African American. He was born in 1008 at Natchez, Mississippi. He lived in an Orphanage cit Memphis He lived with several of his relatives before returning to Memphis at age fifteen. More information about him can be read in his autobiography, Black Boy. Most of his works are based on the issue of racial discrimination which is promoted by a white racist cult Ku Klux Klan, after the American civil war. In Native Son, Richard Wright has created a story around a character called Bigger Thomas, one of several other characters like him. The book is divided into three Book one, FEAR, Book two, FLIGHT and Book three-FATE.
THE PLOT OF THE NOVEL
This is the chilling story of a poor, uneducated black man, born in 1930 in Chicago. Bigger Thomas wakes up one morning in pursuance of a big rat, which he finally kills. His family has a little apartment on the south side. Growing in a harsh environment, Bigger seems not to be in control of his life. While his mother wants him to pick a job with a rich white man called Mr. Dalton, he chooses instead to partner with his friends in a robbery operation against a white man. Bigger’s life is characterized by fear, frustration and anger. Though they continue their robbery operations, they never attempt to rob whites whom Bigger sees as “an oppressive force” that he fears to confront. He fights a member of his gang to foil the robbery and later becomes Mr. Dalton’s Chauffeur.
By coincidence, Mr. Dalton turns out to be Bigger’s landlord who controls Bigger’s apartment. While Mr. Dalton and his wealthy white colleagues are busy robbing poor blacks throw exorbitant rents in Southside, Chicago, they disallow blacks to rent apartments in white enclaves resulting to overcrowding and high rents in black residential areas. Meanwhile, Mr. Dalton engages in philanthropic gestures to wipe away his quality conscience. Bigger is angered by Mary’s ignorance of the social taboos that define racial relationships. Mary is Dalton’s daughter. The first day Bigger drives her, in the company of Ian, her communist boyfriend, the three get drunk. Later, Bigger, being too close to a pre-white lady in her drunken state is aroused to kiss her.
Surprisingly, Mary’s blind mother strolls into Mary’s room as Bigger tries to rest her on her bed, Bigger’s apprehension is intensified by the fact that Mary, in her drunken state will reveal his presence to her mother. He suffocates her with her pillow and unknown to the blind woman, she prays over her daughter and goes out of the room. To hide his crime, Bigger burns Mary’s body in her father’s furnace and frames up Jan for Mary’s sudden disappearance believing that he will be least suspected because of Dalton’s racial prejudice
The murder of Mary gives Bigger a new strength and identity. Meanwhile, Bigger and Bessie, his girl friend plan a ransom deal and Bigger assumes a pseudonym – RED. Unfortunately, Mary’s bones are discovered in tine furnace and Bigger escapes with Bessie to an empty building where he rapes her. Fearing that she will expose him, he kills her while she is asleep. A massive man hunt is on Bigger’s trail for a long while. Eventually, be is caught in a dramatic Shoot-out. He is adjudged guilty by the public even before his trial. Ironically, Jan, rather than work against Bigger enlists his lawyer friend, Boris Max to defend him free of charge. This unusual turn of events make Bigger to see the whites as equals. Max, in defence argues that though Bigger is complicit in multiple crime, he is a product of violent, racial society. Inspite of his brilliant argument, Bigger is sentenced to death.