Native Son Quotes

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Native Son Native Son by Richard Wright
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Native Son Quotes (showing 1-20 of 20)
“Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread.”
Richard Wright, Native Son
“Violence is a personal necessity for the oppressed...It is not a strategy consciously devised. It is the deep, instinctive expression of a human being denied individuality.”
Richard Wright, Native Son
“They hate because they fear, and they fear because they feel that the deepest feelings of their lives are being assaulted and outraged. And they do not know why; they are powerless pawns in a blind play of social forces.”
Richard Wright, Native Son
“I didn't know I was really alive in this world until I felt things hard enough to kill for 'em...”
Richard Wright, Native Son
“He had lived and acted on the assumption that he was alone, and now he saw that he had not been. What he had done made others suffer. No matter how much he would long for them to forget him, they would not be able to. His family was a part of him, not only in blood, but in spirit.”
Richard Wright, Native Son
“Pity can purge us of hostility and arouse feelings of identification with the characters, but it can also be a consoling reassurance which leads us to believe that we have understood, and that, in pitying, we have even done something to right a wrong.”
Richard Wright, Native Son
“The white folks like for us to be religious, then they can do what they want to with us.”
Richard Wright, Native Son
“Goddamnit, look! We live here and they live there. We black and they white. They got things and we ain't. They do things and we can't. It's just like livin' in jail.”
Richard Wright, Native Son
“You asked me questions nobody ever asked me before. You knew that I was a murderer two times over, but you treated me like a man...”
Richard Wright, Native Son
“Literature is a struggle over the nature of reality.”
Richard Wright, Native Son
“How could one find out about life when one was about to die?”
Richard Wright, Native Son
“... a knowledge of how to live was a knowledge of how to die.”
Richard Wright, Native Son
tags: death, life
“So he held toward them an attitude of iron reserve; he lived with them, but behind a wall, a curtain. And toward himself he was even more exacting.”
Richard Wright, Native Son
“But rape was not what one did to women. Rape was what one felt when one's back was against the wall and one had to strike out, whether one wanted to or not, to keep the pack from killing one. He committed rape every time he looked into a white face. He was a long, taut piece of rubber which a thousand white hands had stretched to the snapping point, and when he snapped it was rape. But it was rape when he cried out in hate deep in his heart as he felt the strain of living day by day. That, too, was rape.”
Richard Wright, Native Son
“You can't make me do nothing but die!”
Richard Wright, Native Son
“Rather, I plead with you to see a mode of life in our midst, a mode of life stunted and distorted, but possessing its own laws and claims, an existence of men growing out of the soil prepared by the collective but blind will of a hundred million people. I beg you to recognize human life draped in a form and guise alien to ours, but springing from a soil plowed and sown by our own hands. I ask you to recognize laws and processes flowing from such a condition, understand them, seek to change them. If we do none of these, then we should not pretend horror or surprise when thwarted life expresses itself in fear and hate and crime.”
Richard Wright, Native Son
“Every decent man in America ought to swoon with joy for the opportunity to crush with his heel the woolly head of this black lizard, to keep him from scuttling on his belly farther over the earth and spitting forth his venom of death!”
Richard Wright, Native Son
“Every movement of his body is an unconscious protest. Every desire, every dream, no matter how intimate or personal, is a plot or a conspiracy. Every hope is a plan for insurrection. Every glance of the eye is a threat. His very existence is a crime against the state!”
Richard Wright, Native Son
“Slowly he lifted his hands in the darkness and held them in mid-air, the fingers spread weakly open. If he reached out with his hands, and if his hands were electric wires, and if his heart were a battery giving life and fire to those hands, and if he reached out with his hands and touched other people, reached out through these stone walls and felt other hands connected with other hearts -- if he did that, would there be a reply, a shock?”
Richard Wright, Native Son
“He sat. The white cat still contemplated him with large, moist eyes.”
Richard Wright, Native Son

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