In the beginning, when Bigger started working for the Dalton’s, he had to drive Mary Dalton, the daughter, to the University of Chicago. However, she wanted him to pick up her boyfriend, Jan, and head to a restaurant. When Bigger was in the car with Jan and Mary, “he was very conscious of his black skin...Jan and men like him” made Bigger feel insecure of who he was. (Wright 67) Even though Jan and Mary did not say anything that would insult his race, the presence of white people made him self-conscious. Being
The story gains an entirely new context when we are let into Bigger's thoughts. Outwardly, his story looks like one of robbery, murder, and rape-murder. Inwardly, it is a power struggle between two societies, both living in Bigger's world. While the basis of Bigger's world is set in fact (black people were treated like dirt for quite some time), the
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.120). 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.
Wright uses Bigger’s psychological corruption to send a message to the reader. It offers a new view on the underlying effects of racism on the black community of the time period. Wright creates Bigger from the diversity he saw throughout American society. “I made the discovery that Bigger Thomas was not black all the time; he was white, too, and there were literally millions of him, everywhere... I became conscious, at first dimly, and then later on with increasing clarity and conviction, of a vast, muddied pool of human life in America. It was as though I had put on a pair of spectacles whose power was that of an x-ray enabling me to see deeper into the lives of men. Whenever I picked up a newspaper, I 'd no longer feel that I was reading of the doings of whites alone (Negroes are rarely mentioned in the press unless they 've
Once again, even Whites that are more liberal and/or against racism fail to see Blacks as equals or as people they can identify with. This is shown when Mary Dalton asks Jan if he knows any Blacks, which he does not. This is also shown when Mary praises Blacks by saying “they have so much emotion” (88). Ian Afflerbach in his article “Liberalism’s Blind Judgment: Richard Wright’s Native Son and the Politics of Reception” argues that Mr. Max failed as Bigger’s lawyer, as he does not focus so much on Bigger’s character as he does on the condition of Blacks in America and the blindness of every person. (100) He even denounces the argument that Bigger is a product of injustice (99). Afflerbach says that when Bigger embraces the idea that he is a
Throughout his life, Bigger, had been bound by the stereotyping of a whole society. The man versus society conflict in this novel is what this book is focused around.. Bigger is constantly intimidated by the white man and what they stand for. He is content in his efforts to rebell against they 're castes. "Let 's play white, ' Bigger said, referring to a game of play actingin which he and his friends imitated the ways and manners of white folks." During this scene Bigger plays the President who is ordering a cabinent meeting.
Bigger Thomas uses deception to cover the crime for his personal safety. He knows that the white people of Chicago will kill him if they know he killed a white girl. Throughout his deceit, Bigger feels the white world
She tells Bigger, “I think I can trust you” (Wright 64) in order to toy with his emotions and disobey his boss’ orders as Bigger, Mary, and Mary’s communist boyfriend Jan Erlone take the car out for a night in the loop. After a rousing evening on the town filled with booze and conversations about communism that left Bigger offended and ashamed to be black, it became Bigger’s duty to make sure that Mary was placed safely in her bed after being too intoxicated to stand on her own. Because Bigger strives to obey his boss, he feels inclined to personally place Mary in her own room in order to avoid trouble. This shows that Bigger Thomas took Mary to her bedroom with no intention of causing any problems in his new workplace reminding the reader that Bigger is not an evil human being, just a product of his environment. After being in Mary’s bedroom, Bigger decided to overstay his welcome due to his curious arousal with white women. To Bigger’s surprise, “a hysterical terror seized him” (Wright 85) as Mrs. Dalton makes an appearance in Mary’s bedroom to check on her daughter. Bigger automatically assumed that if he was caught in Mary Dalton’s bedroom at an odd hour of the night he would be immediately fired and accused of raping a white woman that could ruin his already tragic life forever. Due to her blindness, Bigger was not seen immediately, but he realized if Mary kept mumbling, Mrs. Dalton would make her way
Bigger acted irrationally, suffocating Mary on accident in order to prevent himself from getting caught. He then took her down to the basement and attempted to place her in the furnace. After realizing her head would not fit in the furnace, he “whacked at the bone with the knife. The head hung limply on the newspapers, the curly black hair dragging about in blood. He whacked harder, but the head would not come off”(Wright, 92). This act of extreme violence is exactly what Wright intended to show. This act of “taboo” contrasted greatly from what was seen and expected of the Negro man during this time. The act of Bigger raping and killing Bessie also shows Wright’s usage of shock value. Bigger and Bessie hide out in an abandoned home after the police comes to the realization that Bigger killed Mary. As they hide out, Bigger sees Bessie as a liability and comes to the conclusion that he must kill her. As he smashes her head in with the
I would argue, however, that Bigger always detested whites treating him like a nobody and after accidentally killing Mary Dalton, he began being more open about he he feels since he had little to lose. Anyway, Bryant’s main argument is that the white world does not see Bigger, and this is one of Bigger’s biggest fears. Indeed, when they accuse him of rape, this takes away the subjectivity that would have been associated with him had he simply been called a murderer. In addition to making Bigger seem less than human by labeling him as a rapist, the authorities do not think that Bigger is intelligent enough to carry out a murder as complex as Mary Dalton’s. All this goes to show that Bigger is a symbol that whites have used as an excuse to discriminate against Blacks, and who Bigger is as a person is not something that really matters. The reason Bigger has negative feelings towards all Whites for the majority of the book is because they only see his skin color.
While both brothers are conscious of their community’s dark side, they manage their environment differently. The narrator tries his best to distance himself from those problems, and to refrain from getting emotionally involved in the tragedy. Also, he has a difficult
Mrs. Dalton's discovery of Bigger is a serious threat to his life, which causes him to frantically search for safety. "He turned and a hysterical terror seized him, as though he were falling from a great height...It was Mrs. Dalton. He wanted to knock her out of the way and bolt from the room" (Wright 97). Like the rat, Bigger is trapped and in danger, with no possibility for escape. In his last, desperate fight for survival, he suffocates Mary, similar to the rat's wild leap for his pant leg.
Wrights depiction of Bigger through his use of figurative language techniques, reveals Bigger as an unstable and violent character, and to the reader Biggers character creates an uneasy
The oppression that Bigger experiences from his mother is the root of his tendency to want control. She deprives him of his own identity which leaves him to do the only natural thing: create one. Bigger also has control over Buddy, but he does not need to use violence to accomplish it because Buddy is entranced with everything that Bigger does. Wright also foreshadows the events of the novel in the opening scene. The rat is a symbol of the white world’s view of Bigger: an annoying and dangerous monstrosity who does not belong in a civilized environment. Literally, Bigger must gain control over the rat due to his compulsion to commit violent acts. Bigger’s killing the rat symbolizes his destruction of himself that he creates through the violence that he commits.