Richard Wright's 'The Outsider': An Existential Examination Book Review by eddievedder

An analysis of Richard Wright's novel "The Outsider."
# 144790 | 6,009 words | 27 sources | MLA | 2010 | US

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Chosen as a "Paper of the Week":

Paper of the week
Richard Wright, born September 4, 1908, was an influential African-American author who wrote several controversial, but highly praised works.  Wright wrote novels, poems, and short stories that focused primarily on the racial issues of his time and he is credited with helping to improve race relations in the US.  In recognition of Wright's contributions to not only the field of literature but also to his efforts to bring to the forefront issues of social inequality, paper #144790, "Richard Wright’s "The Outsider": An Existential Examination", was chosen as this week's Paper of the Week on AcaDemon.  Paper #144790 is a 23-page research paper that explores Wright's novel, "The Outsider", from an existentialist perspective.  The paper begins by introducing the reader to the essential tenets of existentialist literature and then delves into an in-depth examination and analysis of "The Outsider", as a piece of existentialist literature.  The paper presents a well-written, thoroughly researched, and interesting analysis of a famous novel by one of the most gifted of African-American writers.


This paper gives an in-depth examination and analysis of Richard Wright's novel, 'The Outsider' from an existential philosophical perspective. Many concepts are explored in the paper, such as literary existentialism and how Wright used it to show the protagonist, Cross Damon's, struggle for freedom. Philosophical ideas are also considered, especially in light of how one views Cross as either being a hero or criminal. The paper describes the novel's structure, and various other themes such as fear and dread. Quotes from the novel are interspersed throughout the paper to highlight character development and the dilemmas that Cross faced.

Table of Contents:
Literary Existentialism
Wright and Pessimism, Dread, Fear
Narration Structure
Root of Dread

From the Paper:

"The theme of 'The Outsider' is Cross's search for freedom; but true freedom, he finds, is but another expression of the will to power. Hence Cross, the metaphysical rebel, opposes Communists because his freedom (or will to power) must inevitably clash with the Communists' will to extend their power over him. Moreover, since Cross equates freedom with power, freedom actually means the successful subjugation of the will of others; thus the dream of universal freedom is a logical impossibility. In averring that the Communist and the ethical criminal are motivated by the same principles; that together they recognize an identical truth about the human condition; Wright avoids a number of the difficulties of Native Son wherein he tried somehow to reconcile Marxist determinism with existentialist freedom."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Brignano, Russell C. Richard Wright: An Introduction to the Man and His Works. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 2002.
  • Dickstein, Morris. "Wright, Baldwin, Cleaver." Ray and Farnsworth 183-90. 2004.
  • Dostoevsky, Fyodor. The Brothers Karamazov. Ed. Ralph Matlaw. Trans. Constance Garnett. New York: Norton, 2002.
  • Gelfant, Blanche H. Graver, Lawrence. The Columbia Companion to the Twentieth-Century American Short Story. Columbia University Press, 2000.
  • Fabre, Michel. From Harlem to Paris: Black American Writers in France, 1840 1980. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1991.

Cite this Book Review:

APA Format

Richard Wright's 'The Outsider': An Existential Examination (2010, October 06) Retrieved December 06, 2022, from

MLA Format

"Richard Wright's 'The Outsider': An Existential Examination" 06 October 2010. Web. 06 December. 2022. <>