Native Son

Native Son Bigger Thomas has been shaped by various forces. Forces that have changed the life completely for Bigger Thomas. In Native Son, Bigger Thomas seems to be composed of a mass of disruptive emotions rather than a rational mind joined by a soul. Bigger strives to find a place for himself, but the blindness he encounters in those around him and the bleak harshness of the Naturalistic society that Wright presents the reader with close him out as effectively as if they had shut a door in his face. In the first book, Wright tells the reader these were the rhythms of his life: indifference and violence; periods of abstract brooding and periods of intense desire; moments of silence and moments of anger — like water ebbing and flowing from the tug of a far-away, invisible force (p.31).

Bigger is controlled by forces that he cannot tangibly understand. Bigger’s many acts of violence are, in effect, a quest for a soul. He desires an identity that is his alone. Both the white and the black communities have robbed him of dignity, identity, and individuality. The human side of the city is closed to him, and for the most part Bigger relates more to the faceless mass of the buildings and the mute body of the city than to another human being.His mother’s philosophy of suffering to wait for a later reward is equally stagnating — to Bigger it appears that she is weak and will not fight to live.

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Her religion is a blindness; but she needs to be blind in order to survive, to fit into a society that would drive a seeing person mad. All of the characters that Bigger says are blind are living in darkness because the light is too painful. Bigger wants to break through that blindness, to discover something of worth in himself, thinking that all one had to do was be bold, do something nobody ever thought of.

The whole things came to him in the form of a powerful and simple feeling; there was in everyone a great hunger to believe that made them blind, and if he could see while others were blind, then he could get what he wanted and never be caught at it (p.102).Just as Bigger later hides himself amidst the catacombs of the old buildings, many people hide themselves deep within their minds in order to bear the ordeal of life and the oppression of an uncaring society. But their blindness allows them something that Bigger cannot achieve: it allows these people to meld into the society that is the city, while Bigger must stand at the outside of that community alternately marvelling and hating the compromises of those within. Bigger is alone; he is isolated from every facet of human affection. Max tells the court that Bigger cannot kill because he himself is dead, and a person without empathy or sympathy, without the deep, steadying love of family or faith in anything.

When he lashes out in violence it is in a way a search for what hurt him; he hurts others because it is a way of hiding that he is hurt and afraid.). If one considers life to be a period of growth and learning, recognition of self-worth and of the worth of others, then Bigger has not been given the chance to live.Book Three is called Fate, and indeed Bigger seems to be controlled his entire life by ambivalent outside forces who could care less about him. He has been lied to until he believes the lies he tells himself. He has no place in society.

His own mother believes in him no more than the billboard reading you can’t win that he sees each day outside his apartment. He has grown up in an environment where enormous rats fester in holes and water is a maybe situation, where meals are precarious and money is almost nonexistent, and where he is told time and time again that he has no worth, no dignity, no intelligence or creativity.Is it any wonder that Bigger is violent? It seems more fantastic that all of the people around him are not. When he says, upon reading the paper No! Jan didn’t help me! He didn’t have a damned thing to do with it! I — I did it! (p.

283) he is clinging to the act of violence he performed as an affirmation of self. He is isolated by a blind society, he is loved by no one, he has never been given a chance to explore who and what he is. His attitude of why care? is rather to be expected, predicted, than wondered over. He is not a good person, he is not noble or true or brilliantly creative.

But he has the capacity for all of those things, and has not been given the chance to fulfill them.His crime of violence is as much the crime of the people around him, who stifled his soul and nourished the other, baser side of him that was the only way he had of self-expression.

Native Son

Native Son: Character Actions Defines Their IndividualRichard Wright’s novel, Native Son, consisted of various main andsupporting character to deliver an effective array ofpersonalities and expression. Each character’s actions definestheir individual personalities and belief systems. The maincharacter of Native Son, Bigger Thomas has personality traitsspanning various aspect of human nature including actionsmotivated by fear, quick temper, and a high degree ofintelligence.

Bigger, whom the novel revolves around, portraysvarious personality elements through his actions.Many of his action suggest an overriding response to fear, whichstems from his exposure to a harsh social climate in which a clearline between acceptable behavior for white’s and black’s exists.His swift anger and his destructive impulses stem from that fearand becomes apparent in the opening scene when he fiercely attacksa huge rat. The same murderous impulse appears when his secretdread of the delicatessen robbery impels him to commit a viciousassault on his friend Gus. Bigger commits both of the brutalmurders not in rage or anger, but as a reaction to fear.

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Histypical fear stems from being caught in the act of doingsomething socially unacceptable and being the subject ofpunishment. Although he later admits to Max that Mary Dalton’sbehavior toward him made him hate her, it is not that hate whichcauses him to smother her to death, but a feeble attempt to evadethe detection of her mother. The fear of being caught with awhite woman overwhelmed his common sense and dictated hisactions.

When he attempted to murder Bessie, his motivation camefrom intense fear of the consequences of “letting” her live.Bigger realized that he could not take Bessie with him or leaveher behind and concluded that killing her could provide her onlyThe emotional forces that drive Bigger are conveyed by means otherthan his words. Besides reactions to fear, his actions demonstratean extremely quick temper and destructive impulse as an integralpart of his nature. Rage plays a key part in his basic nature,but does not directly motivate the murders he commits.

Rage doesnot affect Bigger’s intelligence and quick thinking and it becomesevident during the interview with Briton. The detective makesBigger so angry that the interrogation becomes a game to Bigger,a game of logic and wills, of playing the stupid negro, andtelling the man exactly what he wants to hear. The game Biggerplays during the interrogation shows his great intelligence andability to think quickly on his feet. Bigger also displayed hisintelligence in the creation of the ransom note. Using thesituation to his advantage, Bigger wrote a ransom note to extortMary’s parents for money. To make the note even more convincingand to dissuade blame from himself, Bigger signs the note with thecommunist symbol of a hammer and sickle.

Although the book revolves around Bigger he possesses few goodqualities, which get his horrendous actions negate, making him ananti-hero. He possess the violent tendencies to commit rape,extortion of the dead girls parents, robbing, and killing innocentpeople. These traits do not portray a simple victim ofcircumstance, but a habitual criminal acting out against asociety. While Bigger dominates the story, his appalling actionsmake him a man that the reader can not look upon as a hero. Infact the author punishes the anti-hero character by condemning himOne of the two most sympathetic characterizations of white personsin the novel comes from the character of Jan Erlone, Mary Dalton’sfriend.

He exhibits an enthusiastic personality and represents anidealistic young organizer for the Communist party. Mary’sparents and their servant Peggy distrust his motives. Biggerinitially expresses a distaste for “reds” when responding to Jan’sfriendly advances during their first meeting. While receivingdistrust from those around him, Jan retains a simple belief in theequality for all men, regardless of social class or race.Throughout Jan’s first meeting with Bigger, he regards Bigger withthe utmost respect. During the course of the night, Jan sits inthe front of the car with Bigger, eats with him, drinks with him,and speaks to him as an equal.

Those actions of equality portraymore than a decent man, it shows that Jan’s character possesses astrong sense of morality and honesty. Jan is also characterizedby other heroic traits, forgiveness and understanding. As aninteresting twist of fate, Jan gets Bigger an attorney, anddemonstrates that he could forgive Bigger for implicating him forThe second sympathetic white character, Boris A. Max, portrays theCommunist lawyer whom Jan brings to help Bigger. Max’s legalknowledge and his mastery of tactics are constantly in evidence.By taking Bigger’s case pro-bono, Max shows two aspects of hisnature, charity and a need to defend the oppressed. By acceptingthe task of Bigger’s defense, he makes it painfully clear that histrue intent originates from a desire to protect the image of thecommunist party.

That passion does not adversely affect his skilland he diligently works to protect his client from injustice. Themoment Bigger accepts Max’s offer to represent him, Max protectshis client’s interests and insists upon his rights. Maxconstantly demonstrates his intelligence, in his pursuit ofjustice and a fair trial for his client Bigger Thomas.The members of the Dalton family represent the naivet of whitesto the realities of social oppression.

Mr. and Mrs. Daltonattempt to correct their wrongs by donating to various blackcharities. They create a boy’s club, donating ping pong tablesand various other impractical items.

In doing so, they do notmake any personal sacrifices and basically give only minimalpersonal involvement to the cause. They have not developed agenuine understanding of the economic and social conditions of theblack people. Mr.

and Mrs. Dalton are naive about their lack ofimpact on the social and economic situations of the blacks thatthey attempt to help. The author does not make them callous orbigoted.

Their daughter, the wild twenty-one year old MaryDalton, lacks the refinement of her parents. She wants to treatothers as equals, but her actions make Bigger uncomfortable and hegrows to resent her for her actions.Bigger’s family and Bessie Mears represent, the “beaten” negros.They have all accepted the that their lives will never have thepossibility for improvement. They feel doomed to remain in thepits of the slums. A lost outlook on life represents Bessie’smost outstanding personality trait.

Through her self-awarenessshe reiterates in multiple references that she exists as a “lost”soul. Bessie circumstances prevent her from going any farther inher life. She briefly escapes with the use of alcohol whichBigger provides her in exchange for “love”. An aura of deathsurrounds her even before Bigger murders her. Like Bessie,Bigger’s mother appears trapped on a one way street going nowhere.

An interesting aspect of Native Son develops from the many levelsof conflict occurring simultaneously in the book. On asuperficial level personal conflicts arise, but deeper conflictsabout race, social status, and political view points drive thesesuperficial conflicts. When the book opens Bigger has an argumentwith his mother, and then his sister, about getting a job.

Confrontations like these happen constantly throughout this novel,but neither Bigger nor the other characters grow from theseconflicts. The characters act out in rage due to stress caused bysocial circumstances. Bigger’s violent temper gets him intovarious conflicts with his gang, a man on the roof whom heattacks, and the fellow who owns the pool hall.

Although these actions demonstrate acts of rage, they do notportray the true motivation for Bigger’s actions. The cause ofBigger personal conflicts stem his fear of repercussion for hisactions as a black in a white dominated society. His fear of theconsequences of being discovered with a drunk white woman, driveBigger Thomas to smother Mary Dalton. This fear arose because ofthe non physical barriers, set up by society, between white andblack people. This tension made Bigger angry while he was forcedto secretly drive Jan and Mary around in the car and finally madehim snap. Like Bigger, the entire city demonstrates conflictsbased upon fear brought about by racial segregation. During theprogress of the man hunt, blacks and whites go at each othersthroats.

These various conflicts all stem from fear and racialhatred. Although Richard Wright portrays the segregation of theblacks, he does not omit the segregation of various social groupssuch as the communists. In contrast, Jan and Max’s efforts tosave Bigger stem from a struggle for equality. They too feel theconstraints of oppression, but have a philosophy and socialFrustration and hopelessness develop as major themes of thestory. When Bigger and his friend Gus watch a sky writing plane,Bigger expresses frustration in his statement “I could fly one ofthem things if I had a chance.

” Discussing the impossibility ofaccomplishment in the white-controlled world, Bigger expresseshopelessness, saying, “They don’t let us do nothing.” When Gusreminds Bigger that they have always known this, Bigger agrees,but insists that he cannot accustom himself to it. “Every time Ithink about it,” he says, “I feel like somebody’s poking a red-hotiron down my throat.” Today a good example of the same type offrustration can be seen on the various music videos done by blackartists. These video portray, poor education and a lack ofOppression, hate, and the separatism between whites and blacksalso arises as a main theme. Bigger represents the oppressed butrebellious black, in contrast the Dalton’s represent naive whites,and Jan and Max represent the oppressed communists.

These variouscharacters hate each other without comprehend the underlyingsocial cause. Only the oppressed groups come to help and forgiveeach other by the end of the novel, while the oppressors stillasking for bitter vengeance. The separatism become obvious whileBigger when sits in the car with Mary and Jan. He feels afraidand uncomfortable being treated like an equal and being allowed tosit near them.

This separatism also made his oppressors blindlyignorant of the realities of social oppression. Separatismaffects both sides of the color line. The characters considereach other as separate entities, never interacting on an equalbasis. Social ignorance allows the scapegoating of Bigger, tovent the anger and rage built up from by many years of tensionbetween the races. A good example of separatism and oppression inour area shows up in the conflicts between Whites and Cubans.Arguments about English as the official language as the officiallanguage of the US represent the manifestations of this conflict.

A notable theme that the author portrays through Bigger’s actionscome from the true meaning of freedom to the oppressed. Bigger’sdiscovered “freedom” came to him in two instances, in both caseswhile committing murder. With the death of Mary Dalton, Biggerstarts to realize that for the first time he has gone against thelaw. Breaking the proverbial barrier and the proper limits ofwhat a black man can do in society he is no longer controlled orrestrained by another mans rules. This idea expands to note thatwhen Bigger himself defines the rules, he makes himself free.Interestingly serial killers in our society have multiplied, acommon trait that they all possess is abuse in their earlylifetime. Perhaps they act out of the same misguided need forfreedom that Bigger found when committing murder.Bigger, his family, and Bessie all feel the affects of separatismand oppression.

Richard Wright believes in the immorality ofoppression. He uses his book as a tool to vent his frustration,at the world that segregates negros. His characters, themes andconflicts probably originate from his own experience ofseparatism. By using such a wide range of characters, he givesthe readers who are not black an insight into the horrificallydesperate situations many poor blacks experience.Bigger’s actions toward Jan and Mary portray his resignation tothe social inequity of the color barrier. He acts simply, as asubservient “yessah”. It appears the author believes the truewall of separation between whites and blacks is an almostJan and Max base their decisions on the equality of man. Having amoral basis for action leads them to have a means to deal withoppression and the ability to hope.

In contrast, Bigger acceptsseparatism as an immutable condition, and rebels against it bycommitting crimes. Bigger receives punishment for his actions.The author would appears to support socialist concepts as theproper rebellion against oppression. He seems to believe in theequality of men and the value of demonstrating it in everydayNative Sun: Themes of Racism, Violence, And Social InjusticeIn his most famous novel, “Native Sun”, Richard Wright successfullydevelops three major themes: Racism, violence as a personal necessity, andsocial injustice.

He has captured the powerful emotions and suffering, thefrustrations and yearnings, the restlessness and hysteria, of all theBigger Thomas’s in this grippingly dramatic novel.Wright shows to us, through Bigger Thomas, how bad things were for theblack race. He tells how Bigger was raised in a oneroom apartment, livingwith his family and rats. The rent was very high, and his mother was barelyable to pay it. Bigger’s education like most blacks at that time , did notexceed the eighth grade.

Without the help of the Relief Agency, Bigger andhis family may not have been able to keep up much longer financially.Bigger had no money, except for the spare change his mother gives him, sohe would usually just hang out at the pool hall, which was in the blackBigger used to pull little jobs with his friends, but all of themincluding Bigger wanted to pull off a big job, by robbing Blum’s store.They were afraid though, of getting caught for robbing a white man. Theyknow the police don’t care about blacks, and would probably accuse them ofmany more crimes. Luckily for Bigger, though, the Relief Agency did findhim a job with the Daltons.

When Bigger went to the Daltons house for thefirst time, he brought his gun, because it made him feel equal to the whiteWhen Bigger got to the Daltons house, he didn’t know whether to enterthe house by the front or back door. He looks for a way to the back, andrealizes the only way in is through the front door. As he rang thedoorbell, he felt very disturbed. And when he started talking to Mr.Dalton, Mr. Dalton asks Bigger about his past crimes, which made Biggerfeel pressured.

Then Mary Dalton walked in and asked Bigger if he was in aunion, if he knew about communism, and then still more questions, until herfather finally asked her to leave the room. Bigger was afraid that thislittle brat was going to get him to lose his job. Then he met Peggy, amaid, Who asks Bigger all these questions, like he could understand whatshe was talking about. Then Peggy showed Bigger the car he was to drive thefamily in. When He saw the black car, he thought about how the whites owneverything. When Bigger meets Miss Dalton, she talks to other people abouthim while he is standing next to her, like he was the third person.Richard Wright also shows how Bigger is caught up by forces he couldneither understand, or control.

Bigger found a sense of freedom andidentity in acts of violence. Bigger mainly disliked his family because hefeels sorry for them. And when Bigger picks on his friend, Gus, it ismainly out of fear of robbing Mr. Plum.When Bigger, Mary, and Jan get drunk, Bigger takes Mary home andaccidentally kills her while trying to shut her up so her mom wouldn’t knowshe was drunk. Then, after Mary is dead, and her mom is gone, Bigger shovesMary’s Body in her trunk, and carry’s her downstairs. Then Bigger tries toshove Mary’s body in the furnace, but her head won’t fit. So, he takes thehatchet and cuts her head off, throwing it as well as her body, in theAfter everyone found out Bigger had killed Mary, Bigger ran to Bessie, his girlfriend’s, house.

When he arrived, he ended up telling hereverything that had happened. Bigger, after telling Bessie everything,realizes he can’t leave her alone with this knowledge. So, Bigger andBessie, ran to an abandoned building, where Bigger figured how hard itwould be to keep going with Bessie along. Bigger felt he had to kill her tokeep her quiet and keep her off his back, so he did.

Richard Wright also showed us the social injustice blacks had. WhenBigger got caught by the police and was jailed, he received constantharassment. He was faced with a choice of either confess, or else belynched by a white crowd, which shows the violence of whites towardsblacks. At the trial Bigger was tried unlawfully. For instance: WhenBuckley, the man prosecuting Bigger, tells Bigger to reenact the murder.And throughout the trial, there was name calling in the newspapers, and atBibliography:

Native Son

In Native Son, by Richard Wright, the main character is 20 year old Bigger Thomas. Growing up poor, uneducated, and angry at the whole world, it is almost obvious that Bigger is going to have a rough life. Anger, frustration, and violence are habits for him.

He is an experienced criminal, and unable to handle with his wild mood swings, Bigger often explodes in fits of crazy, aggressive outrage. Bigger has grown up with the opinion that he simply has no control over his life. In his mind, he cant ever be anything more than an unskilled, low-wage laborer. He is forced to take a job as a chauffeur for the Daltons to avoid having to watch his own family starve.

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Strangely, Mr. Dalton is Bigger’s landlord; he owns most of the company that manages the apartment building where Bigger’s family lives. Mr. Dalton and other wealthy real estate men are robbing the poor, black tenants on the South Side. What they do is refuse to rent apartments in other neighborhoods to black tenants. By doing this, they create an fake housing shortage on the South Side, and that causes high rents. Mr.

Dalton likes to think of himself as a generous man just because he gives money to black schools and offers jobs to poor, timid black boys like Bigger. However, his generosity is only a way for him to get rid of the guilty conscience he has for cheating the poor black residents of Chicago.Mary Dalton, the daughter of Bigger’s Mr. Dalton, angers Bigger when she ignores the rules of society when it comes to relationships between white women and black men. On his first day on the job, Bigger drives Mary out to meet her boyfriend, Jan.

One thing leads to another, and all three of them get drunk. Mary is too drunk to make it to her bedroom on her own, so Bigger helps her up the stairs. Just as he places Mary on her bed, Mary’s blind mother, Mrs. Dalton, enters the bedroom.

Bigger is scared that Mary will give away that he is in the room, so he covers her face with a pillow and accidentally smothers her to death. Unaware that Mary is dead, Mrs. Dalton prays and then leaves the room. Bigger tries to cover his crime by burning Mary’s body in the Daltons’ furnace.

Then attempts to frame Jan for Mary’s disappearance.A comment by Bigger’s girlfriend, Bessie, gives him the idea to try to collect ransom money from the Daltons. He writes a ransom letter and signs it Red, then talks Bessie into taking part in the whole plan. But, when Mary’s bones are found in the furnace, Bigger and Bessie run away to an empty building. Bigger is scared that he is going to get caught because of Bessie, so he rapes her and then he beats her to death with a brick. Everyone is after Bigger to try to catch him and bring him to jail.

He escapes the huge manhunt as long as he can, but he is eventually captured after a huge shoot-out. The press and the public decide his guilt and his punishment before his trial even begins. All the people just assume that Bigger raped Mary before killing her and burned her body to hide the evidence. The white authorities and mob use Bigger as an excuse to terrorize the entire South Side neighborhood.Jan is heartbroken over Mary’s death, but he finally understands that he is partly guilty too. He realizes that he was wrong to expect Bigger to act differently to him than to any other white man. Jan also realizes that he violated all of the rules that apply to race relations. And the fact that he did that, angered and shamed Bigger.

Jan gets his friend, Boris A. Max, to defend Bigger for free. He tries to save Bigger from the death penalty by arguing that what Bigger did was an affect of the environment he was in. Max warns the public that there will be more men like Bigger if America does not put an end to the huge cycle of hate and punishment. But, even after the trial, Bigger is sentenced to death.Book Reports

Native Son

Native Son Richard Wright is the author of the novel, Native Son. By writing the novel, he wanted to awaken America to the realities of the relationship between blacks and whites in the controversial 1930s.

When he wrote this novel, it caused many disputes among Americans. Many people thought that some of the issues Wright included in his novel were not appropriate to write about. Richard Wright believed that even the bad parts of America should be seen, though. This story takes place in Chicago, Illinois in the late 1930s.The main character is Bigger Thomas. He is a twenty year old black man who lives in a one-room apartment with his mother, sister, and brother.

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The part of town they live in is infested with crime, and most of the buildings are dilapidated. Bigger believes that he could never get far in life because of his being an inferior black man in a”white” world. Bigger wants to help support his family, so he decides to apply for a job as a chauffeur. He is hired by a millionaire named Henry Dalton, who allows Bigger to live in his house. Mr.Dalton and his wife, who is blind, always try to help their employees succeed in life. Everything goes well for a while until one night when Mr. Daltons teenage daughter, Mary, gets drunk.

Bigger carries Mary to her room after she falls down while climbing the stairs. While Bigger is in Marys room, Mrs.Dalton comes to check in on her.

Although Mrs. Dalton wouldnt be able to see Bigger in Marys room, he is afraid that Mary might make a noise and Mrs. Dalton might think that he is raping her daughter. In his terror, Bigger covers Marys face with a pillow and accidentally smothers her.When Bigger sees that he killed Mary, he freaks out, chops up her body with an ax, and hides it in the furnace downstairs. Although he acts out of fear and doesnt know what he is doing, Bigger still feels a sense of control that hes never felt before. Bigger leads everyone to believe that Marys Communist friend, Jan, kidnapped her.

Nobody suspects Bigger until one day, when the remains of her body are found in the furnace. He gets his girlfriend, Bessie, involved to help him get money and run away, but he kills her to avoid betrayal. Bigger is finally caught by the police and put on trial. During the course of the trial, he is amazed to find that Jan has forgiven him for all that he did.He cant believe that a white man actually treats him like a human being. Bigger is convicted of murder and ultimately pays with his life to learn that all humans are equal. I love this book! It shows the true story of how hard it can be to live in a prejudiced society.

This novel is full of suspense and is really able to stir up controversies within oneself. I would definitely recommend this book to people.


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