Approaches to Teaching Wright’s Native Son

  • Editor: James A. Miller
  • Pages: x & 141 pp.
  • Published: 1997
  • ISBN: 9780873527408 (Paperback)
  • ISBN: 9780873527392 (Cloth)
Approaches to Teaching Wright's Native Son Cover
“This collection will be a valuable resource not only for instructors teaching the novel for the first time but also for those who find that the approach to the novel they developed in the 1970s doesn’t work today. Both James A. Miller’s lucid introduction and the organization of the essays speak to issues an intelligent teacher wants help with.”—Susan L. Blake, author of Letters from Togo

Richard Wright predicted that Bigger Thomas, his most powerful literary creation, would become “a symbolic figure of American life, a figure who would hold within him the prophecy of our future.” The essays collected in this volume attest to the accuracy of that prediction and to the ability of Native Son—even after half a century—to fascinate, shock, and divide its readers. The novel raises many challenging questions for today’s teachers and students: How much did Wright’s radical political views influence the fabric of the novel? Is Bigger a racial archetype or racial stereotype? How does one reconcile Bigger’s claims of free will with the book’s grim environmental determinism? Who is responsible for the tragedy of Bigger Thomas?