Richard Wright proposes that utter poverty and societal racism lead to criminal activity in "Native Son" (which is still powerful, not to mention controversial, more than 70 years after it was written).
an instrument of execution consisting of a wooden frame from which a condemned person is executed by hanging
“If you don’t stop running with that gang of yours and do right you’ll end up where you never thought you would. You think I don’t know what you boys is doing, but I do. And the
gallows is at the end of the road you traveling, boy. Just remember that.”
an inhibition or ban resulting from social custom or emotional aversion
They had the feeling that the robbing of Blum’s would be a violation of ultimate
taboo; it would be a trespassing into territory where the full wrath of an alien white world would be turned loose upon them; in short, it would be a symbolic challenge of the white world’s rule over them; a challenge which they yearned to make, but were afraid to.
There was in his eyes a
pensive, brooding amusement, as of a man who had been long confronted and tantalized by a riddle whose answer seemed always just on the verge of escaping him, but prodding him irresistibly on to seek its solution.
These were the rhythms of his life: indifference and violence; periods of abstract brooding and periods of intense desire; moments of silence and moments of anger—like water
ebbing and flowing from the tug of a far-away, invisible force.
He heard the commentator’s voice: Mary Dalton, daughter of Chicago’s Henry Dalton, 4605 Drexel Boulevard, shocks society by
spurning the boys of La Salle Street and the Gold Coast and accepting the attentions of a well-known radical while on her recent winter vacation in Florida.
to accuse or condemn or openly or formally or brand as disgraceful
There was a slow fade-out, while the commentator’s voice ran on: Shortly after a scene like this, shocked Mama and Papa Dalton summoned Mary home by wire from her winter vacation and
denounced her Communist friend.
an unshakable belief in something without need for proof or evidence
There was an organic
conviction in him that this was the way white folks wanted him to be when in their presence; none had ever told him that in so many words, but their manner had made him feel that they did.