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Word Count: 1,373
The novel Native Son was published by Richard Wright in 1940 The book represents the tragedy of Bigger Thomas a black boy raised in the Chicago slums during the great depression Wright uses symbolism extensively in the novel There is even symbolic meaning behind the titles of each of the three parts of the novel It is symbolism that allows Wright to explain the entire novel in the first few pages Even though symbols are widely used in the novel there are only three that are very important The three most important symbols are the black rat blindness and the One of the major symbols in Native Son is the black rat in the first chapter of the novel The rat symbolizes the fate feelings and actions of the main character The parallels between the rat and Bigger Thomas are unmistakable The black rat is seen as an invader and is killed The same eventually happens to Bigger later in the Robert Lee argues that the black rat is symbolic of several things According to Lee one symbolic function of the black rat is that it sets up a motif that resonates throughout the novel The rat points forward to the figure Bigger himself will become the part-real part-fantasy denizen of a grotesque counter Darwinian world in which human life-his own Marys Bessies-seems to evolve backward into rodent predation and death Whether in pursuit or the pursued Bigger becomes damned either way just as he victimizes others while doubling as both his own and societys victim These inner meanings of the novel also lie behind Wrights three-part partition of fear Secondly the rat is symbolic of the terrified helplessness of the Thomas family and Biggers response to it The rats belly pulsed with fear Bigger advanced a step and the rat emitted a long thin song of defiance Bigger crushes the rat utterly and in triumphant bravado flaunts the bloody corpse in his sisters face
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