Native Son

Native Son

Book - 1940
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Baker & Taylor
In the powerful classic novel that captures the poverty, injustice, and hopelessness that exist in American society, the negative forces of a white world close around Bigger Thomas, who discovers a distorted freedom in acts of violence and murder. Reprint.

With an introduction by Arnold Rampersad

"The Library of America has insured that most of Wright's major texts are now available as he wanted them to be read."
--Alfred Kazin, New York Times Book Review

Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny: by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright's powerful novel is an unsparing reflection of the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America.

"This new edition gives us a Native Son in which the key line in the key scene is restored to the great good fortune of American letters. The scene as we now have it is central both to an ongoing conversation among African-American writers and critics and to the consciousness among all American readers of what it means to live in a multi-racial society in which power splits among racial lines."
--Jack Miles, Los Angeles Times

& Taylor

Traces the fall of a young Black man in 1930s Chicago as his life loses all hope of redemption after he kills a white woman

Publisher: New York : HarperPerennial, c1940
ISBN: 9780060929800
Branch Call Number: FICTION WRIGHT
Characteristics: 594 p
Alternative Title: How "Bigger" was born


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Jun 16, 2016

In order to fully understand this book, it may be necessary to talk it out with another person. Throughout this book I was appalled at certain parts, especially with how gruesome some of the words were. The storyline was a bit slow as well, but the main message of the book was important. Additionally there were also many symbols throughout the book that were hidden under the surface that were hard to interpret. As a result, I think talking about the book is crucial to one's full understanding. Most importantly, I found Max's speech at the end of the book chilling, and his words vital for humanity.

Sep 03, 2015

Didn't finish. Read about 2/3. Had trouble suspending disbelief -- Bigger was too smart to have made some of the criminal mistakes he made.

Aug 10, 2015

Richard Wright's portrayal of his main character is mesmerizing. It reveals the truth about our society both then and now. Even though this is a work of fiction the characters are real. They exist today! This is a must read for those who want to understand the blacks of the 1940's and the reasons why some lashed out as a result of being marginalized. Only a genius can touch one's psyche as Wright has done.

hbrown10011 Jul 24, 2015

Despite what all the hoopla and racial politics surrounding Richard Wright in general and "Native Son" in particular, this book is an absolute page-turner and I could not put it down.

Richard Wright is brilliant! "Native Son" is sensational!

Jun 28, 2014

Bigger Thomas as the central character of this novel is extremely vivid, realistic. I have seen versions of him on the news. I have met elementary school versions of him in school. I struggled reading this book due to the violence, seemingly senseless violence. Avoidable violence. The author embeds possible reasons why as the story unfolds. Although Native Son is a novel, it has much to say about society in the U.S., race relations and the value of individual life. I found the Afterward-"How Bigger Was Born" by Richard Wright and the author's Chronology to be a great supplement to the novel. In my opinion this book should not be banned, but should be reserved for a senior high school or above audience.

BrooklynFencingGirl13 Jun 14, 2012

This book was good. It was a little slow in the beginning but pulled through. There are still a few things I don't understand, like: why Bigger killed Mary Dalton in the first place. Her mother was blind, and she was drunk. In the book it states Mrs. Dalton could smell whiskey on her daughter. Why would she believe anything Mary said? Some of this book didn't make any sense.

Dec 20, 2011

This book has stayed with me and occasionally haunted my thoughts even more than those that I call, "My favorites." I doubt if any other book will impact me in my life the way this one did.


Add Age Suitability

Aug 10, 2015

Al6Hameed thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Jan 10, 2015

IQIncorporated thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

BrooklynFencingGirl13 Jun 14, 2012

BrooklynFencingGirl13 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


Add a Quote

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 06, 2016

Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread.

BrooklynFencingGirl13 Jun 14, 2012

"There was no chance of his getting that money now. They had found Mary and would stop at nothing to get the one who killed her."


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at ELPL

To Top