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The Tone Of "Bright And Morning Star"

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Under Communist rule, everyone is equal by law. That's why during the 1920 to the 1950's, African Americans flocked to join the party. Included in the flock of black Communists was the renowned black author, Richard Wright, whose works are today known for their dark portrayal of black Communist life. A critic summarizes the influence on his stories: "As a poor black child growing up in the deep South, Richard Wright suffered poverty, hunger, racism and violence... experiences that later became central themes of his work" ("Richard Wright" 1). Richard Wright's many literary work, especially his short stories, all deal with those dark themes. One of his most famous short stories, "Bright and Morning Star", is a story that: "[. . .] carefully investigates the inner psychology of Aunt Sue, a mother of Communists[. . .]" as an essayist summarizing the story's plot (Kent 43). In other words, the story follows the deadly and dangerous dilemmas of Aunt Sue, a black Communist mother of black Communist sons living in the South, as she tries to protect her son that is not in jail, Johnny-Boy, and the other Communist members at the same time.. He is out recruiting for a Communist meeting, and the Sheriff and his white mob are hunting him down. Wright writes the story so expertly that the reader really experiences Communist life in the South, and get caught up in the danger and suspense of the story, living it as though he or she were part of the story! He was able to create this tone of fright and suspense using stylistic devices like colloquialisms, foreshadowing, and symbolism.

Richard Wright uses the stylistic device called colloquialisms, dialogue that was very realistic for the setting, to help the reader mentally experience the story, making it

more frightening and suspenseful. Colloquialisms used in "Bright and Morning Star" were extremely realistic for the Southern setting. A colloquialism is a piece of dialogue that is written exactly how it would be said in real life- if the character has an accent, muffles words, or skips over consonants, it is written so. Puts a critic, Wright "[. . .] emphasizes the pronunciation of words uttered both by a stereotypical Southern person as well as by a stereotypical African American living in the South" ("Bright and Morning Star" 41). So, since the story is set in the South(where everyone has an accent), all of the dialogue is written in a realistic colloquial form, and as realistically as the dialogue could possibly get.

The character's simple sentences in the story, such as "Yuh an got the right sperit" and "N some hot cawffee" written in colloquial form lets readers imagine a Southern conversation very clearly and bring them into the story to enhance the overall story's tone (Wright 237). Writes a critic about colloquialisms, "This type of dialogue, if done carefully, pulls the reader into the setting" ("Bright and Morning Star" 41). That statement is true because colloquialisms add the sense of sound to the story's overall sensory experience, making it more intense and realistic. Pulling a reader into the story allows the reader to get caught up in the fear and suspense it brings. Using these stupendously realistic colloquialisms, Wright was able to add fear and suspense to the story's tone.

Foreshadowing, another literary device Wright uses to create a fearful, suspenseful tone, is defined as actions, plot twists, or dialogue put into a story in order to give readers a hint at what might happen further into the story. There is much foreshadowing in "Bright Morning Star", in order to create a "perfectly wrought tension" to keep readers in suspense ("Bright and Morning Star" 41). The major foreshadowing, however, is contained in the conflict of the story - more specifically, the desperate actions taken by both sides of the conflict during the story's course. On one side of the conflict is a white mob led by the Sheriff, hunting for Communists in Aunt Sue's small town. To be more specific, they are very much hunting for Aunt Sue's son Johnny-Boy, and they are becoming more and more violent with each passing sentence.. On the other side of the conflict is Aunt Sue, whose dilemma to protect both Johnny-Boy and the other Communists is getting harder and harder, and she is resulting to desperate martyrdom. Both of the sides' desperate measures foreshadow a sepulchral ending to the story.

The Sheriff and his mob's side of the conflict foreshadow demise by getting more and more violent and vicious in their quest to capture black Communists. Their violence hints that there is only going to be more violence in the story's future, since it is increasing. They act rashly and cruelly to the blacks right from their first appearance in the story, when they invade Sue's house looking for Johnny-Boy while she sleeps. When she discovers them, they proceed to taunt her into giving the location of Johnny-Boy and the names of other Communist members. When she refuses, they slap her so hard that "[. . .] she reeled backward several feet and fell on her side[. . .]" (Wright 239). When she mouths off to them as they leave, the Sheriff beats her into unconsciousness. She couldn't of possibly defended herself against him, but he beat her all the same, just to prove his point, "[. . .]his wet shoes coming into her temple and stomach" (241). The Sheriff and his mob, driven by their quest for Communists, have let themselves overreact, get worse in their violence and not only make the story more scary, but foreshadow even more violence in the end of the story.

Aunt Sue is the other side of the conflict, whose increasing martyrdom and defiance to her cause foreshadows the story's horrid demise. She tries to protect Johnny-Boy and the other Communists at the same time, but the problem gets too hard - and she becomes martyrlike, because "Sue would do anything for her sons - except betray others" (Felgar 29). This means she is more committed to her Communist martyrdom than she is to her own sons. Like the Sheriff and the mob, she is martyr-like and sassily defiant right from the very start - and in the McCarthy Era, it was asking for trouble for a black person to be those things. When the mob first invades her house, causing the first conflict clash, she immediately yells for them to get out instead of letting them just ransack her home. When she is slapped for refusing to give names, instead of backing down, "She stood before him again, dry-eyed, as though she had not been struck" (Wright 239). She takes even more hits for her stubbornness. When the Sheriff realizes he is not going to get to her, and starts to leave, she even mouths off



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