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A fight against the world in native son by richard wright

The black writer prepared and nourished the ground for the fiction of social protest.

  • The metamorphosis which takes place in him at this stage resembles the change that occurs in man after he had made an existential choice;
  • But what is the spirit?

More than any writer of his period, he helps in inserting a great consciousness in Blacks and Whites as weIl. Ris novels are outstanding examples in the fiction of social protest: Ris works belong to the Afro -American hJ!

They have a high quality of revelation and reflect the writer's persistent attempt to explore the actual inner life of Negroes. Wright's works constitute his own assault upon society. The stories in his books are a brutal, startling, and undisguised comment not on life, but on a way of having to live and being forced to live in ignorance, fear and shame. The writer is thus preoccupied with the heroes who violently hurl themselves against the walls that bar them from a life, they know is a better life.

The structure oftheir personality, the pattern oftheir emotions and. Re performs his dut y as a committed black intellectual whose main mission is to unveil black life through action and writing.

Richard Wright is an example of black boy born to poor parents. Re has a great potential for genius - but lives under the circumstances of a racially divided and poverty-stricken Southland. Ris personality suffers great trauma in his earliest and most formative years.

Native Son

The negative elements of 1 neurotic family and broken home in which there is religious fanaticism and cruelty are mixed together to make out his fiction. His life is dominated by a set of ideas and philosophies that he personally embraces and then weaves into his writing. Of great importance is the inclusion of existentialism in his body of ideas.

He seriously read Kierkegaard and studied Nietzsche.

Existentialism in Richard Wright's Native Son and The Outsider

Wright is obsessed with the psychology of oppressed people and the creative depths of the unconscious mind. His intellectual journey moves from southern black expression of Christianity to dialectical materialism and hence to existentialism. Wright's existentialism does not, as many believe, begin in Paris.

It develops as a result of his experiences: Living poor and black in a hostile white world gives him his first knowledge of the human condition. He is deeply marked by the existentialist vision of life he encountered in his childhood and adolescence, which is compounded by painful poverty, the cruel religious fanaticism of his maternaI family, and the frustration of a broken family.

That is why, the existentialist issue has been one of Wright's major preoccupation. Vf Richard Wright is known to be one of the first Afro-American writers to have dealt with existentialism in his fiction.

The author depicts his protagonists Bigger Thomas and Cross Damon as the historical rebel and the metaphysical rebel. Wright's philosophy is that fundamentaIly, aIl men are potentially evil. Every man is capable of murder or violence and has a natural propensity for evil.

Evil in nature and man are the same; nature is ambivalent, and man may be naturally perverse a fight against the world in native son by richard wright quixotic as nature. Human nature and human society are determinants and, being what he is, man is merely a pawn caught between the worlds of necessity and freedom. He is alone against the odds of Nature, Chance, Fate, and the vicissitudes of life.

AlI that he has to use in his defence and the direction of his existence are his reason and his will. By the exercise of reason and will, he can operate for the little time he has to live. As aIl great writers ,Wright's life and work has been examined by each generation of students. But we become aware of the fact that an important theme like Existentialism in Richard Wright's Works has never been fully debated at the English Department.

They have been interested in other themes such as racism, crime, violence, environment and personality in Wright's works. That is why, for the purpose of our memoir, we have chosen to work on su ch a topic.

The purpose of our work is two-fold: The study will help us to examine Wright's existentialism in order to stress the way it is ambivalent.

Our work is divided into three parts. The first part will be an account of the basic elements of existentialism, and it highlights the historical evolution and the existential principles. The second part includes an analysis of Richard Wright's existentialist novels, and it focuses on Native Son and The Outsider. The third part deals with the assessment of Wright's existentialism.

The German philosopher Martin Heidegger is important in its formulation, and the French essayist Jean-Paul Sartre has done most to give it its present form and popularity. Young Soren has been raised in an atmosphere of austere rigid Protestantism during aH his childhood.

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Without being familiarised with religion, without any former preparation, the young boy is directly introduced to the harsh and authentic Christianism exemplified by the image of Christ dying on the cross for our sins. After that "strange education", in Kierkegaard's,own words, he completed his studies at the Faculty of Theblogy in Copenhagen university.

One year later, his meditations on the dogmatic 0 question of sin appeared under the title The Concept of Dread. Until his death in 1855, he put down many other notes and philosophical reflections in his diary Papirer. But what is the spirit? The spirit is the self. What is the self? The self is the relation to oneself or the possibility of that relationship to refer to oneself. Man is a synthesis ofunfinished and finished, of temporal and etemal, of liberty and necessity, in brief " ' a synthesis ,2 ln that vision, man is a being-in-relation and not a fight against the world in native son by richard wright static substrate.

Ruman existence is therefore a synthesis of aH these factors making man's nature. Existence is a perpetuaI relationship developed by the combinations spirit-soulbody, temporal-etemal, liberty-necessity. To say if more c1 early, man is nothing but his actions. The immediate consequence of Kierkegaardian ontology is the personal commitment of the existing individu al in the hum an situation.

The existentialist's point of departure is the immediate sense of awareness that human beings have of their situation; a part of this awareness is the sense they have of the absurdity of the outer world.

Criticising Hegelian rationalism, the Danish theologian sees the inadequacy of human reason to explain the enigma of the universe as the basic philosophical question. He finds ultimate solution in faith: He has hope and faith because he believes in this ultimate Being as God, Love, Oneness of immortal Mind, and infinite Spirit.

By a leap of faith he finds ultimate communion and existence in God, and this sustains him. Kierkegaard' s ideas can be summed up through Tertullien's words: Credo quia abs 'urduml. But during the last half of the nineteenth century, the German philosopher Friedriech Nietzsche substituting the traditional theocentrism for a courageous anthropocentrism has prodaimed the death of God.

He used the term "nihilism" to designate the morbid crisis falling upon the modem world: As the existence tums out to be worthless because of the nothingness of old values, it is up to man to innovate and change those values. Man's ability to "transvaluate" lays in his awareness of the nothingness of old values. As a matter of fact, Nietzsche daims that man is set free from God' s domination -gods do not exist, or even if they exist, they do not care for man's situation.

God is an illusion of the mind.

Turning a Blind Eye: The Ethical Implications of Blindness in Native Son

Therefore, there is no reason to fear a dead God and restrain one's actions and freedom. The Nietzschean prototype of is the Superman. You have been resurrected since he is left dead in his grave. It is now time for the superior man to become the master u. That Will to power is to be educated and sustained by severe exigencies.

Indeed, human existence is a perpetuaI overcoming aIl over good and evil. The Will to power cannot stand any idealism. The point of existentialism in Nietzchean philosophy is his calI for man to create values and invent his way layout good and bad.

The latter was born on 26th September 1889 at Messkirch, a small rural city in Badeland. Four semesters later, he decides to leave theological studies for philosophy in which he gets a PhD degree. After the first W orld War burst out in 1914, Martin Heidegger was appointed as Privatdozent Assistant professor at Fribourg University; during autumn 1916, he has worked under the authority of the famous phenomenologist Edmund Husserl who will be his mentor and godfather his life long.

What is it possible to know about the being? To that question Heidegger answers that "time is the truth of the being". To put it more clearly, man is a being who exists in time, a temporal being who is perpetually "a presence".

Martin Heidegger's "interpretation of the time as horizon of any comprehension of the being" 1 has opened the door to the doctrine of existentialism in 1927.

For the existentialist thinker, man is a being-in-the-world in-der-welt-sein whose existence is a proj ect, a being who can invent himself at any time of worry. It is within that little instant der Augenblick that man frees himself from his world and discovers new avenues for his actions. With su ch a freedom, man cannot remain as a mere subject in History, but he can create his own history. T 0 round off, Martin Heidegger is the tirst philosopher who has tried a metaphysical approach of existentialism.

It is up to man to create values out of that chaos. His detinition of man in early 1927: AlI the philosophies of existence trying to put the stress on the unyielding nature of hum an existence will have special echo during the Second W orld War period.

When the war ended in May 1945, following the capitulation of the German army, we are still very far from the great euphoria which has marked the end of the first World War in November 1918.

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The main reason is that the war aftermath is disastrous. Moreover, the events which have followed the end of the War, in that year 1945, bring much more trouble than comfort, mainly the discovery of concentration camps with their concerted system of extermination by the Nazis.

The explosion of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, even if it marks the last step of the W ar, will open the new age of apocalyptic destruction, and engage humanity in a collective suicide. The division of the world initiated by Joseph Stalin, Theodore Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill at Yalta in 1945, creates not the conditions of a lasting peace but rather opens the era of cold war.

As Jean-Paul Sartre said it: