30pt3 R W that a spectre is haunt- ing Communism in the United States. Yet his novel Native Son () is strangely like a ghost, fi ctionally visiting and revisiting a particular history of the Party’s attempts to understand race in terms functionally equivalent to those of class. Wright’s novel is shaped in part by his own experiences with the Communist Party of the United States, fi rst in Chicago and then in Harlem. But the commitment to Communism Wright may have felt early in the s is tempered at the end of the decade by his portrayal of the nightmare of Bigger omas’s life. For in writing Native Son Wright imagines a Communism in the United States that quite capably reproduces processes of social dehumanization that exile Bigger into the shadowy role of what Wright once ironically referred to as “the Negro’s uncertain posi- tion in America” (“Bigger” xxviii). Occupying a position that is scarcely uncertain in s Chicago, Bigger is tried for the rape and murder of Mary Dalton, the white daughter of his employer. While Bigger’s conviction was perhaps already assured by the combined historical weight of such charges and contemporary practices of legal-lynching, Wright assigns a signifi cant degree of importance to his trial. In this remarkable episode of Bigger’s narrative, Wright’s Communist defence lawyer Boris Max off ers Exchanging Ghosts: Haunting, History, and Communism in Native Son George C. Grinnell McMaster University ESC . (September ): –ESC . (September ): –ESC | Grinnell | an impassioned and complexly rendered portrayal of racial discrimination in the United States. Max examines the ways in which charges of rape policed and sanctioned violence against African Americans. e “hunt for Bigger omas,” he notes, “served as an excuse to terrorize the entire Negro population, to arrest hundreds of Communists, to raid labour union headquarters and workers’ organizations” ().