To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. It also analyses reviews to verify trustworthiness.
Bigger Thomas is a deeply disaffected black man living in post-Depression pre WW2 Chicago. He hates the white world as much as most of it appears to hate him and this novel recounts his tale through double murder,pusuit,capture and trial.
Wright has a lead character who is a bully,thug and coward whom he must bestow with deep insights into rabid racism, anti-semitism and pre McCarthy anti-Communism. These are major,worthy themes but for me Bigger just isn't the voice for them.
The trial scene is very weak descending into a polemic rant which Bigger 'don't understand' and I can sympathise with him at 'falling asleep through most of it'.
In 1940 this must have been powerful stuff and it's worth reading in that context. It chugs along and is worth 3 stars.
Mr Wright's 'Introduction' to this work states, 'I am not so pretentious as to imagine that it is possible for me to account completely for my own book...But I am going to try to account for as much of it as I can....' and 30 pages of Intro later he has had a good go! Pretentious?
I bought this for my daughter’s lit class. By the time the class got to the book, the return window had closed. But there were several pages missing from the beginning of the book so be sure to check your copies as soon as received. (The story itself is compelling & well written; highly recommended.)
Wright's novel had my full attention until midway through the final third when this formerly gripping read dissolved into grandiose speechmaking. The story of Bigger Thomas is, until that point, one of the more involving stories I've encountered in some time. It's especially notable that Wright is able to make us feel for a character who would have, in other hands, been flat-out unlikable.
Bigger's situation and flight from the Dalton home is, from the outset, hopeless but despite the futility, I kept hoping that Bigger would prevail somehow, that somebody would be able to understand his situation. That person really isn't Max, his defense attorney. Alas, even Bigger disappears behind Max' overlong speech that takes up too many pages.
I would recommend the book highly, and suggest that you read it through but I wouldn't feel badly if your attention starts to wander toward the end.
This is an older book that is still relevant today. The main person is not really very lovable or easy to identify with, but that is the point of the book. So many things he did were foolish, and it is no wonder that he got caught. But the book predicted many of the problems that we have today, and to some extent still continue to ignore.
This book is very "stagy," in the sense that the characters confront one another in contrived scenes and make speeches to one another. These speeches have a lot to say about race relations in the 1930s (they were bad) and give us a window into the liberal intellectual climate of the time (Communism was admired). Conservatives will not enjoy this book because it concludes that the central character, a murderer, is not fully responsible for his actions because society made him what he is. While not subtle, this book dramatically portrays the exploitation of a segregated black minority during the depression era in the United States.
The Perennial Classics edition, which I would recommend, includes an introduction by Arnold Rampersad, an excellent chronology of Richard Wright's life, and notes.
This novel was not nearly close to what I expected. I had to read this book for summer reading for English and I simply could not understand the actions of the protagonist (or should I say antagonist) and too many things happened at the same time. I also could not connect with Bigger, I mean why would he kiss a white girl when he was always so jealous and scared of white people, and then after ,although accidentally, kill her? In my opinion that simply does not make sense. Not to forget his obvious temper issues, I felt that his point of view overall just made me confused, throughout the story he claimed that others were blind (to what?) and he was always right. I feel that his story was not reasonable and not enough to portray the lives of so many other African Americans during that time. However, I must admit that certain parts of the book did have and edge that kept the reader hooked for the next chapter. There were also moments when I felt I could connect to the reader, if barely, such as Max's speech. The writing level was also quite high, for once or twice I had too look up the word to find the meaning. Overall, I thought the book was okay although not the best book about this topic.
There's a lot that's good about this book. It is important in a historical sense and deserves to be read. But there are two major issues, and they've already been recognised by plenty of people. First, the female characters are all weak, two dimensional and essentially low value. It verges on a low-grade misogyny, given how vacant and insubstantial the female characters are - they are generally vehicles to be despised or killed. Second the prose is clunky and the plot machinations heavy-handed.
Which is not to say it shouldn't be read. But it should be approached as something to be educated by more than enjoyed.