Until Wright's Native Son, most black fiction was pretty much limited to historical, period pieces. Whether it belonged to the plantation tradition or the Harlem school of literature, most of it could be classed as only historically interesting. A primary reason for this is that the audience those writers addressed themselves to was middle class and "liberated" from the struggles of the poor. Since such an audience asks to read about itself, and since its spokesmen have to be "liberated" too, the writing of that time was largely restricted to a facade, a falsification of black life. There are, of course, notable exceptions to this rule Jean Toomer, Zora Neale Hurston, and Langston Hughes but as a rule, middle-class writing, black and white, was designed to entertain, not to disturb, its middle-class reader. Therefore, when Richard leaves the South in
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