This thesis attempts to explore the quality of bitterness as it is found in the works of Richard Wright, Chester Himes, and John A. Williams, three black twentieth-century American authors. By examining several works of each author I demonstrate how their books reflect bitterness not only on the part of the characters, but also on the part of the authors. By scrutinizing the fibre of this emotion as it changes slightly from author to author, we can see how each man becomes more bitter, until the culmination point is reached in the genocide theory of John A. Williams. In the second chapter my concern is to examine the concept of what I define as "new black fiction." The viewpoint of today's major black authors and critics helps to clarify this definition. This new black fiction begins with Native Son and objects to racial stereotypes; presents a different vision of America, registers strong protests against racism, and reveals the deep alienation of those who are victimized. New black fiction also presents a vision of a world where all people can attain freedom, dignity, and equality. The third chapter considers Richard Wright as a man with a passion to find solutions to the problems of racism and inhumanity. In Native Son he shows for the first time the fear and hate that exist in the hearts of repressed people such as Bigger Thomas. Bigger, a prototype of all the major characters discussed in this thesis, is resentful because he is aware that he is a victim of society's injustice. Despite his limited existence and certain death, he has a vitality which finds release in the act of murder. Young Wright, in Black Boy, has similar feelings, but a slightly differing set of life-circumstances. In The Outsider, the first deliberately existential novel written by an American author, we observe Cross Damon as similar to Bigger in his emotional qualities but with a different set of circumstances as the cause. The fourth chapter deals with Chester Himes and two of his books, If He Hollers Let HIm Go and Blind Man with a Pistol. In these books we can see the Bigger prototype manifested in Bob Jones, Grave Digger Jones, and Coffin Ed Johnson. Jones shows a deeper strain of bitterness than Bigger did, and although he manifests a sardonic sense of humor, he ultimately becomes frozen in inactivity. Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson also show a cynical kind of caprice as they uncover white-sponsored illegal activities in the ghetto. We can see that Himes is more bitter than Wright, but he utilizes humor to prevent the despair from enervating his characters as well as the reader. In the fifth chapter John A. Williams' novels Night Song and The Man Who Cried I Am are discussed. The use of the roman a clef form is significant in these two books because it adds authenticity and emotional impact to Williams' message. We can see here increasing bitterness on the part of Williams and his characters. The climax to this comes in the revelation of the King Alfred Plan, a document outlining the details of genocide to be committed on blacks in American in the case of widespread or continuous racial disturbance. The deliberately shocking presentation and its relationship to reality are discussed. Finally, the interrelationship of Wright, Himes, and Williams is described in the consideration of their characters, use of violence, and concepts of racism. Although a negative emotion, bitterness, has been the main thrust of this thesis, the black author's expressions of this feeling are symptomatic of a positive force which is found in his love of life and concern for his fellow beings. It is the responsibility of the white masses to heed the black writer's challenge, thereby ensuring that racism as it has always existed in this country will eventually be eliminated.