This paper engages interpretations of Richard Wright’s Native Son as a project devoted to violence but considers this notion of the novel as reductive and seeks a reappraisal of the question of violence in the novel. Keneth Kinnamon’s “How Native Son was Born” and Robert Butler’s “The Function of Violence in Richard Wright’s Native Son” are crucial to the analysis of the issue of violence because they problematize violence from the perspective of the novel’s protagonist. The violence in the novel can be viewed as a social pattern of the setting of the novel and to characterize the protagonist as irredeemably violent is to re-inscribe normative interpretations of the protagonist and the novel as well. In addition, to locate the protagonist’s humanity after his contact with the “other” might result in a racial reductionism. Therefore the paper argues that the protagonist’s humanity can be discerned at different locations in the text and this notion of his subjectivity destabilizes racial typology.
臺灣英美文學期刊, 2(2), 1-25 Taiwan journal of English literature