The Bleak Resonance of ‘Native Son’

Greater Thomas is complicated. Half Heathcliff, half Raskolnikov, he stalks the town—a mass of brooding resentment and violent impulsivity, in a fugue state. Brutalized and brutal, belittled and bewildered, submissive and threatening, he tears by means of his life, extra vicious and dismissive to most of those that are near him and present him love than those that humiliate him. Richard Wright has conjured by means of Greater the personification of James Baldwin’s commentary that “probably the most harmful creation of any society is the person who has nothing to lose. You do not want ten such males—one will do.” Greater is one such man.

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