Native Son is a protest novel that tells the story of a young, uneducated, underprivileged man, Bigger Thomas, who functions as both protagonist and antagonist. Through Bigger's experience, Richard Wright reveals the effects of racism and the psychological state of African Americans under the thumb of urban blight in early twentieth century America. More broadly, the novel is a work of naturalism and existentialism wherein Wright expresses his views on ideology, religion, and literature itself.


Read the introduction and main text of Native Son and respond to the writing prompts below. Format all responses on the same document and submit via Pilot. DUE DATE: Friday, Jun. 1, 9 a.m.


In your own words, write one-paragraph sketches for the following characters that account for their biographies, emotional dispositions, and core desires. Each sketch must be at least 100 words.

Bigger Thomas
Mary Dalton
Jan Erlone
Bessie Mears
Boris A. Max

Short Essay

Native Son is an example of "urban realism," a form of narrative exposing the starkest realities of city life in a way that mirrors the real world. Choose a scene from the novel and explain how it embodies urban realism. Be sure to paraphrase the scene in 2-3 sentences before you compose your essay. 250-500 words.


Study the covers for these different editions of Native Son and write a short essay explaining which cover (or covers) most effectively represent the narrative. Pay attention to specific details, including imagery, body language, placement of text, use of color, and use of space. What is the effect of the arrangement of these details, and how do they reflect the novel and its characters? Be sure to cite the novel in support of the claims you make. 500-750 words. DUE DATE: Friday, Jun. 1, 9 a.m.

Analysis & Summary

Respond to the writing prompts below. Format all responses on the same document and submit via Pilot. DUE DATE: Friday, Jun. 8, 9 a.m.

Main Text

Native Son is divided into three sections: FEAR, FLIGHT and FATE. What is the significance of these titles? How do they speak to the action in the novel? Be attentive to specific textual details in your analyses. Write 250 words per section; 750 words total.

"How Bigger Was Born"

In your own words, summarize Richard Wright's essay "How Bigger Was Born," which immediately follows the main text of Native Son. 250-500 words.