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"A (b)igger's place": lynching and specularity in Richard Wright's "Fire and Cloud" and 'Native Son.'.

In 1947, casting the backward glance of a recent expatriate, Richard Wright observes in an interview, "To be American in the United States means to be white, protestant, and very rich. This excludes almost entirely black people and anyone else who can be easily identified" ("I Feel" 126; emphasis added). In the United States, Wright suggests, such things as citizenship are determined to a large extent through the subject's - more precisely, his or her body's - relation to specularity; questions of authority and disenfranchisement in American society relate to the ways in which the subject is located within the regimes of (in)visibility.

In her recent book devoted to uncovering the Western economies of visibility, Robyn Wiegman proposes what seems very much like a reiteration of Wright's argument:

Modern citizenship functions as a disproportionate system in which the universalism ascribed to certain bodies (white, male, propertied) is protected and subtended by the infinite particularity assigned to others (black, female, unpropertied). . . . this system is itself contingent on certain visual relations, where only those particularities associated with the Other are, quite literally, seen. . . . (6)

Similarly, in her influential essay "National Brands/National Body," Lauren Berlant argues that, in the United States, corporeality and citizenship (and its consequent rights) seem to be incompatible with one another. ". . . white male privilege," she writes, "has been veiled by the rhetoric of the bodiless citizen, the generic 'person' whose political identity is a priori precisely because it is, in theory, non-corporeal." Unable to approximate the "ideal model of bodily abstraction . . . American women and African-Americans have never had the privilege to suppress the body" (Berlant 112-13). Wiegman agrees with this: "The white male [is] 'freed' from the corporeality that might otherwise impede his insertion into the larger body of national identity," whereas, for the African-American male, "the imposition of an extreme corporeality . . . define[s] his distance from the privileged ranks of citizenry" (94).

In this paper, I propose to delineate the specificities of the African-American "place" in the field of vision by turning to two of Richard Wright's texts, his 1940 novel Native Son and his 1938 short story "Fire and Cloud." What becomes explicit from the comparison between Wright's hugely influential debut novel and the much less well-known story is a continuity; that is, both the differences and similarities between two practices of subjugation through enforced visibility. We will see how the effects of overdetermined specularity on African-American subjects depend on "racial," epidermal markings being naturalized differences which are there, ineffaceably in full view on "black" bodies, as opposed to corporeal inscriptions which have been imposed onto the bodies of African-American subjects at any particular time.

Lynching and/as Enforced Visibility

While he was composing Native Son, Wright also wrote "Fire and Cloud," which originally appeared in Story Magazine in 1938. The story tells of an African-American minister, Dan Taylor, who, because of his influence among his congregation, is approached by Communist activists to endorse their cause, while being intimidated by the town's white mayor and law enforcement officers not to get involved. When he will not promise his white visitors to tell his starving congregation not to take part in a march organized by the communists, a white mob kidnaps him and drives him to the outskirts of the town where they beat him savagely. Bleeding, he makes his way back to his neighborhood. Taylor's hesitant ideas of justice are galvanized into a conviction by his lynching,(1) and he makes a stand: As the starving members of his community gather at the church, he addresses them, saying that they have to show a united front if they are to defeat the white law which keeps them in poverty and hunger. As the crowd marches from the African-American section of the town, they are joined by the poor white population. Reaching City Hall, they are met by a blockade of policemen and other white people, including the mayor. The threat of further violence is deflected as the mayor, persuaded by the multitude of the crowd, prepares to address the people, apparently ready to compromise to meet their demands. The story ends with Taylor, seeing the mayor hushing the crowd, saying to himself: "'Freedom belongs t the strong? "(406).(2)

"Fire and Cloud" has usually been read as a straightforward, realistic depiction of the beginnings of politicized class consciousness in a rural African-American community. The story, that is, has been regarded as a piece of more or less pure political propaganda in which Wright shows how the disenfranchised, poor black and white people are able to confront their rich, capitalist oppressors as a united front under the banner of communism; Michel Fabre, for instance, writes that the story "was expressly designed to show the development of political awareness among Negroes" (134). While one needs to remain thoroughly suspicious of such propagandistic readings of even Wright's earliest texts,(3) for my present purposes, I want to contrast the scene of Taylor's lynching to what I consider a crucial passage from Native Son. In this scene, the novel's protagonist, Bigger Thomas, visits his new employer's house for the first time and finds himself face to face with a white man, Mr. Dalton. By reading these two scenes together, we are able to elaborate on the ways in which visibility works to determine "racially" marked subjects.

In the scene from "Fire and Cloud," Reverend Taylor is kidnaped and driven by a group of white men to an uninhabited place outside the town. As he is dragged out of the car, one of the white men addresses him abusively:

"Aw right, nigger!"

[Taylor] stopped. Slowly he raised his eyes; he saw a tall white man holding a plaited leather whip in his hand, hitting it gently against his trousers' leg. (387)

Being told to take off his vest Taylor has no option but to comply: "He stripped to his waist and stood trembling. A night wind cooled his sweaty body; he was conscious of his back as he had never been before, conscious of every square inch of black skin there" (388). In the scene from Native Son, Bigger, having been left alone in the unfamiliar territory of the Daltons' lobby, is surprised by an interpellative call similar to the one issued by the white mob:

"All right. Come this way."

[Bigger] started at the sound of a man's voice. . . . Grabbing the arms of the chair, he pulled himself upright and found a tall, lean, white-haired man holding a piece of paper in his hand. The man [Mr. Dalton] was gazing at him with an amused smile that made him conscious of every square inch of skin on his black body. (488)

The mirroring of the two scenes, explicit even in the nearly identical phrasing, is too poignant to be coincidental, especially considering that they were written at approximately the same time. Reverend Taylor encounters a mob of white men who, in the darkened woods, threaten him with a whip; Bigger, on the other hand, comes face to face with a wealthy white man - who, moreover, is cited as being sympathetic to the "Negro cause" - in broad daylight in the latter's respectable home. In his hand, the white man is holding not a weapon but a piece of paper.

The gaze attributed to Mr. Dalton "racializes" Bigger's body in such a way that Bigger becomes aware not only of his skin but of his entire corporeality, of "every square inch of skin on his black body" (emphasis added). I want to suggest that it is through this racializing gaze that Bigger is confined to his "place." Being "racially" marked is described as being defined from without, as being fixed to a particular, extremely confined situation. When fixed by white eyes, Bigger's position is inscribed within social space in a way that makes it easy for anyone and everyone to know him and "his place." As he faces the Daltons' daughter Mary, he sees "her smiling broadly at him, almost laughing. He felt that she knew every feeling and thought he had at that moment and he turned his head away in confusion" (506). Similarly, as he is driving Mary to school, she says to him:

"I'm going to meet a friend of mine who's also a friend of yours." . . .

"Friend of mine!" he could not help exclaiming.

"Oh, you don't know him yet," she said, laughing. (505)

Others are convinced that they have ready access to Bigger and assume an immediate and intimate knowledge of him: Even better than Bigger himself, they know where he belongs - Mary, for instance, seems to know Bigger's friends even before he has met them.

Mary goes on to say explicitly that her knowledge of Bigger depends on her having spectatorial access to him, on her being able to look. The causality between looking and knowing is announced when she tells Bigger that she wants to visit the black district of the city: "'You know, Bigger, I've long wanted to go into those houses . . . and just see how your people live. . . . We know so little about each other. I just want to see. I want to know these people'" (510). To see is to know.

Bigger's "place," as well as the places of other African-American characters in the novel, is defined in concrete, geographical terms. The line between blackness and whiteness is concretely represented in the segregation of the black and white populations within the unnamed city where the novel is set. Whereas Mr. Dalton can own property within the Black Belt, "Bigger could not live in a building across the 'line.' Even though Mr. Dalton gave millions of dollars for Negro education, he would rent houses to Negroes only in this prescribed area, this corner of the city tumbling down from rot" (607). Bigger voices his awareness of the confinement imposed upon him and other African Americans, saying that white people "'make us stay in one little spot'" (776). The function of the lynching depicted in "Fire and Cloud" is also to show the insurrectionary black man his "place" by making him, quite literally, conscious of his black skin. Having been made aware "of every square inch of black skin" on his back, Reverend Taylor is told by the white man holding the whip, "'. . . when we get through with you tonight youll know how to stay in a niggers place!'" (387).

In American Anatomies, Wiegman argues for a similar link between lynching and enforced corporeal visibility: "In the turn toward lynching as a white supremacist activity in the post-Emancipation years, we might recognize the symbolic force of the white mob's activity as a denial of the black male's newly articulated right to citizenship . . ." (83). Lynching sought to deny African Americans their citizenry and to keep them to their "place" by, precisely, reimposing corporeality on (particularly) black men: "With the advent of Emancipation and its attendant loss of the slave system's marking of the African-American body as property," argues Wiegman, "lynching emerged to reclaim and reassert the centrality of black male corporeality, deterring the now theoretically possible move toward citizenry and disembodied abstraction." Lynching, then, works to confine African Americans in the same way as enforced visibility does: Both have as their effect "the imposition of an extreme corporeality," which is precisely what "define[s] . . . the distance [of African Americans] from the privileged ranks of citizenry" (Wiegman 94). Correspondingly, the intertextuality between the scenes from "Fire and Cloud" and Native Son reveals the violence inherent in the strategies of enforced African-American visibility.

Wearing, Being

Nevertheless, the activity of marking the body through lynching (as in the scene from "Fire and Cloud") and the strategy of enforced visibility (exemplified in Bigger's encounter with Mr. Dalton) should not be conflated. Wiegman argues against assumptions according to which black bodies as signs of inferiority and otherness are merely another stage within an historical continuum stretching as far back as the treatment of slaves in ancient Greek societies. Although slaves in ancient societies were distinguished from free citizens by imposing different visible markings on their bodies - e.g., shaved heads, brandings, tattoos - Wiegman insists that it would be erroneous to assume that these strategies are in essence and effect similar to the way in which "natural" pigmentation has come to signify pejoratively in modern societies in the West. "In tattooing, for instance," she writes, "the sign of lowly status takes its form from an exterior branding, imposed at a precise point in time and performed by a disciplinary system readily available to the slave's immediate (however disempowered) return gaze." The imposition of corporeal marking makes the counter-discourse of a "return gaze" possible, whereas this is prevented when such visible markings are naturalized and encompass more than a particular, definable part of the corporeal surface:

. . . in the application of disciplinary power to the entire surface of the body, in the manufacturing of a discourse of natural inferiority that resides, without physical imposition, on the skin - that application is the product of a different technology, one in which the processes of organization are similarly imposed but wholly veiled. In this dispersion of the locus of power, the body is made the productive agent, a sign wrapped in the visibility it cannot help but wear. (Wiegman 213n13)

In other words, "to mark the body is not the same as being a bodily mark" (25).

The comparison between Wright's two texts illustrates exactly, and quite literally, this crucial distinction between the two practices of producing and maintaining visible differences. Whereas, in Native Son, Bigger's consciousness of his "place" is a result of his positioning within visibility, in "Fire and Cloud" the mob tries to subjugate the "uppity" black man to his "place" by "branding" him by whipping. The impending lynching makes Reverend Taylor "conscious of every square inch of black skin" on his back (388; emphasis added). Being sutured into his place, Bigger, on the other hand, is made "conscious of every square inch of skin on his black body" (488; emphasis added).

For the "racially" marked subjects, there are some crucial differences in the consequences of the two practices. Initially, after the beating, Reverend Taylor seems to be entirely engulfed by his "branding," and his existence appears to be defined by the pain: "He seemed to have only a head that hurt, a back that blazed, and eyes that ached. In him was a feeling that some power had sucked him deep down into the black earth, had drained all strength from him." However, he immediately recognizes these as momentary sensations which will pass, inevitably giving way to the "life" before and beyond the beating: "He was waiting for that power to go away so he could come back to life, to light" (390-91).

Bigger, on the other hand, seems to be much more thoroughly fixed and determined; his relation to white people is and remains lodged deeper. In an early scene in Native Son, he rhetorically asks a friend,

"You know where white folks live?" . . . Bigger doubled his fist and struck his solar plexus.

"Right down here in my stomach," he said. "Every time I think of 'em, I feel 'em," Bigger said. (464)

In the scene of his first visit to the Daltons, we are also told that "there was an organic conviction in him that this was the way white folks wanted him to be when in their presence" (489-90; emphasis added). His position within the white supremacist social structures has become a corporeal, organic part of his existence. Such "corporealization" of "blackness" is evident also in other African-American characters in the novel. Looking at his sister Vera, Bigger thinks, "The very manner in which she sat showed a fear so deep as to be an organic part of her; she carried the food to her mouth in tiny bits, as if . . . fearing that it would give out too quickly" (545).

It would seem questionable to insist that, for an individual subject at a given occasion, it would be less detrimental or more desirable to be subjected to extreme physical violence - as Taylor is - than to be caught in a situation where one is uncomfortably positioned, like Bigger, within a regime of visibility. However, on the strength of the comparison that I am making between Wright's two texts, I would still like to suggest that this, in all its disturbing implications, is indeed a legitimate conclusion. For whatever reservations one might pose against reading "Fire and Cloud" as a politically encouraging story, at the conclusion of which one witnesses what seem like the first stages of a powerful black labor movement, Taylor does gain determination from his harsh treatment to stand up to the white law and lead his congregation to fight against poverty and social inequality. Taylor, that is, comes to possess a (political) agency of which Bigger is completely devoid. Taylor's painful "consciousness" of his black skin is physically located on and contained within "the square inches" on his back, where the lashes will land, whereas Bigger is entirely enveloped by this "skin consciousness." The blackness of Bigger's skin comes to determine his being in a wholly encompassing way.

Consequently, Taylor is able to counter the attack by testifying to his congregation about his beating and leading a protest march to the City Hall. In other words, Reverend Taylor, having been made conscious of his black skin by the "branding" of the wounds on his back, is able to establish a counter-strategy by looking back at the beating - in Wiegman's words, by giving it a "return gaze" - from a vantage point different from the "nigger's place" into which the mob violence has attempted to fix him.

Foucauldian Overlap

It is significant that, whereas the white mob uses a whip to teach Taylor to stay in "a nigger's place," Mr. Dalton's "weapon" is a piece of paper. This substitution is emblematic of the differences between the two systems of subjugation which Wright's two texts exemplify and which have been theorized by Michel Foucault in Discipline and Punish (1975). In his exploration into the historical changes in the regimes of the penal systems in Western societies, Foucault writes that disciplinary power "that places individuals in a field of surveillance also situates them in a network of writing; it engages them in a whole mass of documents that capture and fix them. . . . A 'power of writing' was constituted as an essential part in the mechanisms of discipline" (189).(4) Even more effective than the whip in suturing the "racialized" subject to "a nigger's place," writing - the piece of paper in the white man's hand - arrests, fixes, and confines the black man and teaches him how to stay in "a [B]igger's place."

In Discipline and Punish, Foucault famously traces the transitions that he claims to have shaped the penal system and, indeed, whole Western societies during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, contending that "the gloomy festival of punishment" of the seventeenth century - characterized by an excess of violence, by the protracted torture of criminal(ized) bodies, and by the public display of the execution proceedings - was slowly superseded by a disciplinarian practice where the "body as the major target of penal repression disappeared" (8). While the historical shift from punishment to discipline seems to describe the difference between the lynching scenario in "Fire and Cloud" and the scene of Bigger's entrapment in visibility in Native Son, it may not be entirely applicable to the two texts or to the African-American context in general. The two practices are not so mutually exclusive in Wright's texts as they appear in Foucault's. First, there is nothing to suggest a temporal distance between Wright's two narratives which would constitute an historical transition like the one traced by Foucault. Second, while I have been using Native Son to describe what Foucault calls disciplinarian practices, there are overt suggestions in the novel that such practices may coexist with those of spectacular punishment. This overlap is evident in a newspaper article commenting on the proceedings of Bigger's trial.

The article in question first describes at length Bigger's appearance in the courtroom: "He is about five feet, nine inches tall and his skin is exceedingly black. His lower jaw protrudes obnoxiously, reminding one of a jungle beast" (706). Having thus phobically confined Bigger within visibility, the article cites the views of a Southern journalist who endorses lynching as an effective method for thwarting such threats of blackness: "'Our experience here in Dixie with such depraved types of Negroes has shown that only the death penalty, inflicted in a public and dramatic manner, has any influence upon their peculiar mentality'" (707; emphasis added).

Despite the fact that "Fire and Cloud" has the South as its backdrop and that the journalist in question is from "Dixie," it would not be entirely persuasive to argue that the difference between Taylor's lynching and Bigger's entrapment could be located geographically between the differing cultures of the Southern and Northern states. Clearly, the prosecution in Bigger's case advocates what comes very close to lynching, with the State Attorney Buckley telling the court, "'Every decent white 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!'" (829). Members of the courtroom audience enthusiastically repeat his call. "'Kill 'im now!'" they cry. "'Lynch 'im!'" (794).

Thus, the historical shift from spectacle to discipline which Foucault argues to have taken place in European societies within the past 400 years does not seem completely applicable to the African-American context. Wright's texts suggest that, at least during the first half of the twentieth century, the practices of spectacular punishment and those of surveillance coincided with and overlapped the strategies by which African Americans were confined to their "places." Wiegman argues that such confluences were evident also during slavery. While such rituals of public torture as brandings and whippings were employed during slavery, panoptic surveillance was evident in, for instance, "the organizing layout of the plantation, the ideological elision between slavery and dark skin, and the legalization of miscegenation as an abstracted property relation." As Wiegman goes on to note, such overlaps of the specular and of panopticism were also evident in the ritualistic terror of the Ku Klux Klan in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries:

. . . unlike the public executions in the seventeenth century, this program of torture functioned within a panoptic logic, as the perpetuators of dismemberment and murder were ritually veiled and acted not in the service of a lone sovereign but for a now-homogenized, known-but-never-individuated, power. Here, the spectacle becomes the culminating moment for the panoptic's reinforcement . . . . Simultaneously known and unknowable, the rituals of the Klan maximized the relationship between specular and panoptic modes of punishment, translating the possibilities of public execution into psychological structures of servitude and assumed inferiority and drawing the contours of social space in such a way that the African-American subject took up a cellular existence . . . within the omnipresent gaze of the white eye. (3940)

"The disciplinarian power of race," Wiegman concludes, ". . . must be read as implicated in both specular and panoptic regimes"; "the black subject is disciplined in two powerful ways: by the threat of always being seen and by the specular scene" (39, 13).(5)

While representing this overlap, Wright's texts also suggest that certain strategies may be more effective than others as means of confinement and disenfranchisement. As I pointed out above, it is important that we do not make oversimplified statements about the "cruelty" or "humanity" of different uses of power which circumscribe and determine subjects to whom they are applied. Comparing the scene of Taylor's lynching to the one in which Bigger meets Mr. Dalton, one may feel uncomfortable in assuming that Taylor's position might somehow be preferable to Bigger's. To insist on such a reading, however, may be helpful in disrupting certain "commonsensical" assumptions about what constitutes a "more humane" way to exercise power. Also, Foucault advocates resistance in the face of any swift conclusions regarding the reasons behind the transition from a society of punishment to one of surveillance. According to him, the disappearance of the spectacle of physical torture in juridical systems of the West has been "attributed too readily and too emphatically to a process of 'humanization,' thus dispensing with the need for further analysis" (Foucault 7). A more attuned exploration, he writes, would try to uncover the processes whereby the new disciplinarian strategies could penetrate and determine the subjects' consciousness in an "economical" and productive way unrivaled by the strategies of spectacular punishment. As he concludes, the shift from punishment to panoptics attests not so much to "a new respect for the humanity of the condemned" as to "a tendency towards a more finely tuned justice, towards a closer penal mapping of the social body" (78). The aim was "to set up a new 'economy' of the power to punish, to assure its better distribution, . . . so that it should be distributed in homogenous circuits capable of operating everywhere, in a continuous way, down to the finest grain of the social body" (80).

The difference between power which seizes the criminal(ized) body and power which reaches for the "soul" (Foucault 16) may explain the different senses of agency which are attributed to Dan Taylor and Bigger Thomas, respectively, and the differing outcomes of Wright's two texts. Although Taylor's response to his beating is not one of violence, his ability to form a counter-strategy is readily identifiable as one of the unpredictable effects of the violent spectacle of punishment, which, according to Foucault, was one of the reasons behind the transition in penal justice. The staging of state-sanctioned violence invited repercussions in which those wielding the power were themselves threatened. Public execution, Foucault writes, "was . . . dangerous, in that it provided support for a confrontation between the violence of the king and the violence of the people It was as if the sovereign power did not see, in this emulation of atrocity, a challenge that it itself threw down and which might one day be taken up . . ." (73).

A "[B]igger's place" - the enforced African-American place within visibility - seems, then, to be more restricting and confining than the "nigger's place" which the lynch mob promises to show Taylor. Indeed, as he is captured and brought to trial, Bigger becomes aware of how visibility replaces overt violence as a more effective means for his subjugation. Having been led to the courtroom, he is faced with a crowd of people anxious to see the killer Recalling his capture by the white vigilante group some days earlier, he thinks: "If they had killed him that night when they were dragging him down the steps, that would have been a deed born of their strength over him. But he felt they had no right to sit and watch him, to use him for whatever they wanted" (705). Becoming aware of the differences between the crude power exercised by a lynch mob and the more subtle and socially legitimate forms wielded in such institutions as courts of law, Bigger feels it more debilitating to be caught within visibility, in front of a crowd of spectators, than it would have been to be subjected to mob violence.

Notes

1. I am here using lynching in the older sense of the word, where it refers to "a component of the system of frontier justice, operating in lieu of a legally sanctioned trial, and consisting of a variety of punishments - most often whippings - without the final denouement of death" (Wiegman 93). James E. Cutler observes that the meaning of the word shifted during the Civil War, after which "the verb lynch came to carry the idea of putting to death" (116; qtd. in Wiegman 93).

2. The unconventional spellings in this and the following quotations mark Wright's early attempts at transcribing the black vernacular, an effort which he was to a large extent to abandon in Native Son.

3. The concept of African-American literature as transparently polemical or something which is created to fill a "design" - made-to-order, as it were - repeats the gestures of the kind of literary criticism which Henry Louis Gates, Jr., points to in his discussion of the limited view Western critics have taken toward black texts (see Gates, esp. 5-6). It also seems to me questionable to assume that, even in the late 1930s, Wright would have been content with composing a simple textbook piece of communist consciousness-raising propaganda without in some way bringing forth the critical questions and reservations about the position of African Americans in the American communist movement that he obviously was entertaining at the time. Already in "Blueprint for Negro Writing" (1937), he was questioning the limits of the literary craft in propaganda use (see esp, 47-48).

4. To be precise, Foucault is here speaking of the "examination" as an essential part of disciplinarian power and all-encompassing surveillance. In the scene from Native Son, Bigger is clearly "capture[d] and fix[ed]" in writing. Although what the paper Mr. Dalton is holding contains is not made explicit, Bigger is asked to produce another written document, one given to him by the relief organization which has sent him to the Daltons. The scene progresses as Mr. Dalton takes Bigger to his study for, precisely, an examination: "'You live at 3721 Indiana Avenue? . . . What kind of a building is that over there? . . . Where do you pay rent? . . . How much rent do you pay? . . . how old are you? . . . Married?'" (490) - and so forth. Foucault writes of the examination that it "is the technique by which power, instead of emitting signs of its potency, instead of imposing its mark on its subjects, holds them in a mechanism of objectification" (Foucault 187; emphasis added). Here, we can recall the difference between "imposed" and "embodied" visible difference sketched by Wiegman and recognize that, without the crude force of the lynch mob and without inflicting wounds on Bigger's back, an examination, such as the one carried out by Mr. Dalton, effectively and stealthily fixes Bigger.

5. Also Richard H. Brodhead questions the applicability of the Foucauldian shift from punir to surveiller to North American history (see Brodhead, esp. 16-17).

Works Cited

Berlant, Lauren. "National Brands/National Body: Imitation of Life." Comparative American Identities: Race, Sex, and Nationality in the Modern Text. Ed. Hortense J. Spillers. New York: Routledge, 1991. 110-40.

Brodhead, Richard E. "Sparing the Rod: Discipline and Fiction in Antebellum America." Cultures of Letters: Scenes of Reading and Writing in Nineteenth-Century America. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1993. 13-47.

Cutler, James E. Lynch-Law: An Investigation into the History of Lynching in the United States. 1905. New York: Negro UP, 1969.

Fabre, Michel. The Unfinished Quest of Richard Wright. Trans. Isabel Barzun. New York: Morrow, 1973.

Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. 1977. Trans. Alan Sheridan. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1982.

Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. "Criticism in the Jungle." Black Literature and Literary Theory. Ed. Gates. New York: Methuen, 1984. 1-24.

"I Feel More at Home in France Than Where I Was Born." 1947. Conversations with Richard Wright. Ed. Keneth Kinnamon and Michel Fabre. Trans. Fabre. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 1993. 126-27.

Wiegman, Robyn. American Anatomies: Theorizing Race and Gender. Durham: Duke UP, 1995.

Wright, Richard. "Blueprint for Negro Writing." 1937. Richard Wright Reader. Ed. Ellen Wright and Michel Fabre. New York: Harper, 1978. 36-49.

-----. Early Works. With notes by Arnold Rampersad. New York: Library of America, 1991.

-----. "Fire and Cloud." 1938. Early Works 355-406.

-----. Native Son. 1940. Early Works 443-850.

Mikko Juhani Tuhkanen is a graduate student in English at the University of Tampere, Finland. He is currently writing his Ph.D. dissertation on Richard Wright at the Graduate School for Arts and Sciences at New York University.
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Date:Mar 22, 1999
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