Richard Wright predicted that Bigger Thomas, his most powerful literary creation, would become "a symbolic figure of American life, a figure who would hold within him the prophecy of our future." The essays collected in this volume attest to the accuracy of that prediction and to the ability of Native Soneven after half a centuryto fascinate, shock, and divide its readers. The novel raises many challenging questions for today's teachers and students: How much did Wright's radical political views influence the fabric of the novel? Is Bigger a racial archetype or racial stereotype? How does one reconcile Bigger's claims of free will with the book's grim environmental determinism? Who is responsible for the tragedy of Bigger Thomas?