Existentialism in African American Literature: An Essay on Richard Wright’s Native Son and The Outsider (2012)

Richard Wright is known to be one of the first African-American writers to have dealt with existentialism in his fiction. In this respect, his novels Native Son and The Outsider attain a tremendous accuracy in showing the conflict between the individual and the society. The author depicts Wright’s protagonists Bigger Thomas and Cross Damon as the historical rebel and the metaphysical rebel, but he also brings out their limits. That leads him to Wright’s existentialism which is, in fact, a very ambivalent one. The purpose of this critical study is two-fold: to assess Richard Wright’s existentialism, and to show the correlation between the man and his work. As all great writers, Wright’s life and work has been examined by each generation of critics. But few are the authors who have found Wright’s existentialism as a large topic and devoted an entire development to it. That’s why this book is unique.

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