Richard Wright's novel Native Son (1940) is more often than not dealt with as a distinguished instance of African-American protest literature being lacking in terms of literariness and narrative techniques. While it is true that protest literature’s overemphasis on the socio-political is usually costly, at least as much as the authenticity of the characters and the literariness of a literary work are concerned, the many readings of Native Son looking at it almost exclusively within this frame hardly do justice to the work. A return to Henry Louis Gates's theory of Signifying posited in his seminal book The Signifying Monkey: a Theory of African-American literary Criticism (1988) and Paul Gilroy's discussion of Richard Wright's ambivalent modernism in his book The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (1993) will offer an insight into a reading that goes beyond the theme of protest without dropping it altogether. Below I will examine Wright's representation and thematization of the Black vernacular speech, the African-American language games, Signification, and music.
"The Subversive Power of Signifying and the Ambivalence of Modernity in Richard Wright's Native Son,"
Dirassat: Vol. 15
, Article 15.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.aaru.edu.jo/dirassat/vol15/iss15/15