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Chapter 12 - Clothing

Un/Dressing Richard Wright

from Part II - Social and Cultural Contexts

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 July 2021

Michael Nowlin
Affiliation:
University of Victoria, British Columbia
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Summary

In both his writings and appearance, Richard Wright was acutely attuned to the power of dress to convey meaning and build identity. From his early stories collected in Uncle Tom’s Children, where the clothed and naked bodies of young Southern Black men signify poverty, innocence and, to whites, danger, through his late novel, Savage Holiday, where the naked body of a white man precipitates chaos and disaster, Wright’s attention to clothing and to the naked and nude bodies of Black and white men and women—including his meticulous self-presentation as an expatriate writer in Paris—allowed him to explore how attire and style produced sensations of self. The rituals of dressing (Lawd Today), the temptations of naked skin revealed beneath robes and coats (Native Son, The Outsider), the forms of nudity (“Big Boy Leaves Home,” Savage Holiday), the class dimensions of clothing (Black Boy) serve to display psychological and sociological forces of race, gender, sexuality, and power.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • Clothing
  • Edited by Michael Nowlin, University of Victoria, British Columbia
  • Book: Richard Wright in Context
  • Online publication: 08 July 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108773522.014
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  • Clothing
  • Edited by Michael Nowlin, University of Victoria, British Columbia
  • Book: Richard Wright in Context
  • Online publication: 08 July 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108773522.014
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Clothing
  • Edited by Michael Nowlin, University of Victoria, British Columbia
  • Book: Richard Wright in Context
  • Online publication: 08 July 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108773522.014
Available formats
×