Prejudice, Violence and Death in Alex La Guma’s A Walk in the Night and Richard Wright’s Native Son
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This thesis is concerned with the comparison of two writers from two different countries but almost the same period of time: Richard Wright (1908-1960), a black writer from the United States of America, and Alex La Guma (1925-1985), a Coloured writer from South Africa, Both writers had first-hand knowledge about their communities; Richard Wright’s Native Son and Alex La Guma’s A Walk in the Night reflect the plight of the South African and American blacks, a plight which has as “symptoms” racism, segregation, and injustice. The aim of our study is to investigate these two literary racial protest works and bring out the major points in common. The aim is also to show how similar socio-political systems, namely Jim Crow and Apartheid, affect the content and even the form of their two works. In fact, in spite of the remote distance between North America and South Africa, Native Son and A Walk in the Night hold many affinities; they are satires on the obnoxious systems of Jim Crow and Apartheid. They deem these systems responsible for the plight blacks suffer from. The study will be divided into 1) the contextual part and 2) the analytical part. The first part comprises two chapters: the first one is about the historical background of both Black America and South Africa, and the second one is about what I consider as biographical affinities between the two authors. As for the second part, it begins with the third chapter which deals with the way the black man is represented in the perception of the white man; he is regarded less than a human being and very close to the high mammalian species. He is perceived as savage, primitive, and uncivilised. The fourth chapter deals with violence, mainly against the black man, which is considered as the outcome of the negative representation of the Negro and the prejudice held against him. Poverty and degrading living conditions imposed on blacks are regarded as one part of the white man’s violence. The second part of violence is a physical one carried out again by the white man against his black victim. The third part consists in the harmful ways and the aggression of the blacks worked against each other. The fifth chapter deals with the predominance of all the senses of death in a land of oppression; no room is left for the feelings of love and compassion. i Finally, it is worth mentioning that the thesis is an attempt to bridge the gap between the African and the Afro-American literatures in a racially unjust context by highlighting the literary affinities resulting from the hard conditions confronted by both the American and African blacks.