Theses and Dissertations - UTB/UTPA

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Shawn Thomson

Second Advisor

Dr. Rebecca Mitchell

Third Advisor

Dr. R. Jacob McDonie


In 1940, Black leftist writer Richard Wright, in his classic Native Son, sought out a great figure in the American Black canon, W. E. B. Du Bois, to understand and delineate double consciousness of Blacks. But it is surprising, perhaps, that Wright also drew from a major figure in the white canon, Herman Melville, in order to explore the overcoming of double consciousness and its effects. Although another tradition might interpret Melville’s Captain Ahab as “predicting” Wright’s story of Bigger Thomas, I suggest that it is the Pequod crew of Moby-Dick, not the driven and driving Captain, which compels Wright’s attention. A spirit of revolt and camaraderie in the world at sea – I enlist in my analysis Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker’s “motley crew” and Paul Gilroy’s Black Atlantic – informs Melville’s 1850s sea stories, and predicts Wright’s interest in Melville and Wright’s advice to emerging Black writers.


Copyright 2014 Linda Braune. All Rights Reserved.

Granting Institution

University of Texas-Pan American