Native Son Online Book Discussion


Welcome to the Native Son Online Book Discussion



About Native Son:

Read a Summary or a Preview of Native Son

Place a hold on a copy of Native Son from Salinas Public Library

About the Author: Richard Wright

Read a biography of Richard Wright or what Wright has said about the writing of Native Son



Discussion One: Black World—White World—Post-racial World

Playing white” with his friends on a Chicago street corner is a grim substitute for living white, for living in a world, that is, where one may presumably be an aviator, or a President or a millionaire or whatever one wants to be.      –Samuel Sillen, New Masses (1940)


In Book One—Fear, we are introduced to Bigger Thomas, a twenty year old black man, surviving in the Black Belt of 1930s Chicago. In the Sillen quote above, we get an idea of what life is like for Bigger— there is the “white” world, where all things seem possible, and the “black” world where opportunities are either limited or the “stuff” of make-believe. When Bigger’s world of poverty and discrimination converges with the privileged world of his employer, the Dalton Family, tragedy falls upon both the black and white communities of Native Son’s Chicago.

Fast forwarding to the 21st Century, there are many that would say that we are in a “post-racial” world because of the election of Barak Obama, the product of a white mother and black father, as President of the United States. It may be premature to suggest that our country has completely moved on from the separation of races and classes of its citizens, but what do you think? Are your personal experiences more in line with Bigger’s “black” world, the Daltons’ “white” world, or are you living in the harmonic promise of an Obama Era where there is equality for all?


3 Responses to “Native Son Online Book Discussion”

  1. Elizabeth Says:

    I read this book in college, and I have to say I really didn’t enjoy it. It was one of those totally important for its message and purpose, etc, and it IS a vivid portrayal of what life was like for African Americans in that time period…

    But it was way too depressing for me 🙂

  2. salinasstories Says:

    It is definitely an angry scream at a bigoted, depressing world. Hard stuff to take indeed.

  3. Michelle @ Salinas Stories Says:

    Elizabeth, do you feel there are any parallels between Native Son’s 1930s vision of Af-Am life, and what things might be like for our present-day Af-Am community?

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