“The history of the Negro in America is the history of America written in vivid and bloody terms”, states Richard Wright in White Man, Listen!, his 1957 study of the psychological effects of racial oppression (109). And, indeed, these “vivid and bloody terms” figure centrally in most of Wright’s work, particularly in his fiction. From his early short stories in Uncle Tom’s Children (1938) to his final novel The Long Dream (1958), Wright unabashedly and often controversially confronts the various modes and consequences of racial violence. In his complex portraits of black life in America, he not only highlights the forms of institutional and interpersonal acts of violence committed against African Americans, but also fashions his own black protagonists to be perpetrators of violence themselves. Often, this denies an easy categorization of characters as heroes and villains, obfuscates any distinct “moral”, and forces readers to confront the many colliding contextual and environmental factors that shape his characters’ violent behaviour.