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Abstract

Richard Wright's novel, Native Son, puts Bigger Thomas on display as an isolated soul, ontologically separated from the world around him and confused about his place in it. The work of Phillipe Descola aids in understanding the cultural models that lead to this confusion by elucidating the underlying schemas by which people organize their experience. Bigger's isolation appears incurable, or difficult to approach at best. The novel's proposed solution is mercy, or closeness and connection, which both Jan and Max offer Bigger. Much of the novel's content and it's treatment thereof is relevant to the environmental justice movement of the present day. Mercy from all parties may indeed form an important part of the change that the movement hopes to effect on the world.

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