Roache has written this paper "out of the conviction that "How 'Bigger' was Born" merits examination as an important biographical and critical statement in its own right, and that such an examination is necessary to its use in understanding both the novel and the development of Wright's career."
"CRITICS OF RICHARD WRIGHT'S Native Son have paid much attention to the novel's environment and its power to influence the experiences of those who inhabit it. Understood as the arena in which the consequences of cultural, economic, and ideological practices become manifest, the environment is supposed to offer insight into the lives of individuals within it. Louis Graham, writing in 1972 about what he terms the "white self-image conflict" in Native Son, begins his essay by stating that "there is no question that Richard Wright's Native Son is Bigger Thomas' novel and that Wright places major emphasis on the social, cultural, and economic influences in the development of Bigger's character" ("White Self-Image" 19). Various elements of Bigger's environment--understood as offering insight into the shaping of his internal state of mind or his "character"--have remained a point of focus. More recent claims that Bigger is "a tragic victim of implacable social forces" (Goldstein 120), or that "it is space itself which shapes and limits his agency" (Soto 26) are representative of the tendency to emphasize the external environment's role in shaping Bigger as an individual (or as a stereotype). (1) And while readings of the novel's environment are crucial for understanding Bigger as well as the novel's other characters, the assumption that Bigger is shaped (always in a limiting, rather than productive way) by his environment squelches the possibility of understanding a more reciprocal relationship between Bigger and the world in which he lives."
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