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The Wrightian Naturalism Versus Traditional Naturalism

Author YangZuo
Tutor LinYuanFu
School Fujian Normal University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Richard Wright Traditional Naturalism Wrightian Naturalism Native Son
CLC
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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This paper explores the features of Wright’s Naturalism by reading his famous novel-Native Son. While Wright is considered as a typical accomplished Naturalist writer in 20th century and his works are often castigated for Wright’s imitation of his 19th century predecessors, it is proved that Wright has developed a distinct Naturalism of his own, departing in many ways from traditional Naturalism. The paper mainly discusses Wrightian Naturalism in Native Son by referencing traditional literary Naturalism.The first issue addressed in this thesis has to do with the traits of traditional Naturalism. There are mainly three aspects:emphasis on power of heredity and environment; and consequently taking place of animalism; narrative methods of piling details, direct discourse, and lack of authorial interruption. These are the features upon which the main body of the paper is based.The second issue has to do with the vexed differences of Wrightian Naturalism from traditional one, which is the main body of the paper. In Native Son, protagonists are alienated from his environment and heredity is highly stressed and praised, objective rules are violated by authorial comments, symbolism and indirect discourse abound, and disruption of tragic ends by protagonist’s awakening in psychology. These constitute stark difference from the traditional Naturalism, proving thereby that Wright has found his own naturalistic style.The third issue pertains to the reason hidden from Wrightian’s Naturalism. Wright’s special family background serves as a stock model of alienation of Bigger from both environment and heredity. His experiences urged him to describe the suffering of all kinds of black people by choosing a person of complex personality as his protagonist, to exhibits the humanity of black people, as opposed to the image of them in white people’s eyes, to articulate their hope for positive future and freedom on behalf of all his people.Therefore, this dissertation ultimately relocates Wright’s novels from traditional Naturalism to Wrightian Naturalism, arguing for re-readings of the Wrightian novels from the new perspective of Wrightian Naturalism.

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