In Richard Wright’s Native Son, Bigger Thomas attempts to gain power over his environment through violence whenever he is in a position to do so. The first expression of Bigger’s desire for power comes in the opening scene of the book in which Wright sets the precedent for Bigger’s actions. In the opening scene, the Thomas family discovers a black rat in their apartment, and it is Bigger’s task to take care of it. Bigger kills the rat, and through this action, he asserts control over the disturbance of his environment. Though he dominates one annoyance in his environment, he is not yet satisfied; he needs to have control over his family as well. In his quest to gain control over his family, he takes the dead rat and dangles it around Vera’s face to scare her thus putting him in control. Bigger’s act of waving the rat is not a physically aggressive action, but it still constitutes violence because it is an unjustified assertion of force. Bigger is not satisfied that he only has control of Vera, however. Next he must control his mother, which he does by not responding when she asks him to help Vera to bed. Bigger only obeys after the second time that his mother tells him to act, which demonstrates that he decides what he does and when he does it, as opposed to his mother’s doing so. Thomas’ reasons for pursuing his control are the same ones that he has for killing Mary; he must have power over any oppressive structure that he can. His mother is oppressive in the way that she seeks to limit him through rules, forcing him to get a job, and commanding him to act. Bigger’s mother even prohibits him from forming any self-identity because she alters other people’s perception of Bigger. When Bigger refuses to obey his mother she calls... ... middle of paper ... ...the Reverend. Others elect to cope through doing the best they can to fit in like Bessie. However, the most threatening members of society are the people like Bigger Thomas. These people do not accept the status quo and attempt to gain control through abnormal ways. A need for control drives actions like drug dealing which give money that allows one to have a higher social status in their environment. An elevated social status in a constrained environment gives the illusion that one has control over their lives. Others turn to gangs or other violent institutions because they can directly have control over another human through the violence and fear that they create. People similar to Bigger Thomas will continue to be created unless society destroys the class discrepancies that exist which would allow a person to pursue their own individual control over their lives.
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Bigger Thomas wasn’t just one man but every man Richard Wright, the writer of Native Son, had encounter in his childhood and adulthood. Wright had encountered a nice Bigger, violent Bigger, and a Bigger Thomas who hated the white society. He combined all of these Thomases and created Bigger Thomas in Native Son. Bigger filled with enrage and fear of the whites accidentally kills a white woman and tries to run away, but only to end in a prison cell waiting for his punishment. Bigger’s definition of himself and the white society had limited his possibilities of having a greater future but Bigger could have went to the right path if he had controlled himself and his choicies.
“I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of the hunger for life that gnaws in us all, to keep alive in our hearts a sense of the inexpressibly human.” (Richard Wright) In 1945 an intelligent black boy named Richard Wright made the brave decision to write and publish an autobiography illustrating the struggles, trials, and tribulations of being a Negro in the Jim Crow South. Ever since Wright wrote about his life in Black Boy many African American writers have been influenced by Wright to do the same. Wright found the motivation and inspiration to write Black Boy through the relationships he had with his family and friends, the influence of folk art and famous authors of the early 1900s, and mistreatment of blacks in the South and uncomfortable racial barriers.
Born in Harlem in 1924, James Baldwin grew to be a complex man with many aspects. As an avid reader as a child, Baldwin soon developed the skills to become one of the most talented and strong writers of his time. His first novel was written in 1953 and was called “Go Tell it On the Mountain” and received critical acclaim. More great work from this novelist, essayist, and playwright were to come, one of which was “Notes of a Native Son,” which was first published in Harper’s Magazine in 1955 and was also first known as “Me and My House.” In “Notes of a Native Son,” Baldwin exercises his many talents as an essayist in how he manages to weave narratives and arguments throughout the essay. He is also able to use many of his experiences to prove his points. Baldwin effectively interlaces his narratives, arguments, and experiences so as to reach his central idea and to advocate the overall moral that he has learned to his audience. This is what makes Baldwin so unique in his work: his ability to successfully moralize all people he comes in contact with.
The book Native Son by Richard Wright is about an African American man growing up in the south. The main character Bigger Thomas often finds himself in trouble throughout his life from the beginning to the end. The author uses his views and thoughts through Bigger about American society. Bigger worked for a rich man named Mr. Dalton and had “accidentally” murdered his daughter Mary. As a result of that a domino effect of misfortune began to happen. Bigger was later arrested and put on trial because of his actions I felt like I was watching a man sinking through quicksand and with every movement or attempt to free himself making the situation worst. He only murder because fear of getting caught in her room, a white woman’s room. Mary was drunk and the Dalton’s would have thought Bigger was trying rape her or something. It was very distressing that Mary had to die but Bigger was only doing what he thought at the time was right.
Who has the role of the victim in a civilization overrun with ethnic prejudices and discrimination? Native Son, a novel by Richard Wright, focuses on the effects of racism on the oppressors and the oppressed. The novel establishes the notion that in an ethnically prejudiced society, discrimination can, and will, come from anywhere, and most significant incidents do nothing but only contribute to its decline. The protagonist lives in a world of inescapable inferiority - in a society where he will never be allowed to succeed or be able to live up its seemingly high standards simply because he is a black man. Bigger is a pitiful product of American imperialism and exploitation. Bigger embodies one of humankind’s greatest tragedies of how mass oppression pervades all aspects of the lives of the oppressed as well as the oppressor, creating a complex world of misunderstanding, ignorance, pain, and suffering. Wright eloquently exploits this theme of racism and allows the reader to truly feel how the pressure and racism affects the feelings, thoughts, self-image, and life of a black person.
In Native Son by Richard Wright, Mr. Wright lived in the 1930s and experienced how African Americans were unfairly treated and the extreme poverty that still happens in South Side Chicago. The way Mr. Wright grew up into all the poverty, violence, and being discriminated against placed himself into Bigger Thomas shoes and how handled everything the way he was living with despair. That’s how Mr. Wright sets a psychoanalytic theory in his writing of how he portrays Bigger Thomas, he is self-conscious of his actions and how he wishes to hurt some but doesn’t believe he can bring himself to do that. Bigger Thomas despises the way he lives and how the white people have control over his life but sooner or later he does something that makes him feel superior and equal to a white person.
Pinckney praises Native Son as a powerful intellectual book that deals with issues of racism and oppression. He says explicitly that it is the most powerful book, but it is unclear what domain of books Pinckney is comparing Native Son with. Pinckney refutes James Baldwin’s statement about Native Son, saying that Bigger Thomas is not a mere stereotype, but an example of a stressed black boy of the racially segregated American society during the 1930s. It is true that Bigger Thomas is a victim of a racially segregated society.
Bigger often finds himself lashing out as a way to handle his own fear. He is afraid of not being able to help his family enough and so treats them harshly, holding “toward them an attitude of iron reserve” (10). He is afraid of holding up Blum, a white man, and so projects his own fear onto Gus. He berates him for it, calling him “‘yellow’” when he hesitates to take the job (26). Bigger has been so psychologically beat down in his own community and trained to believe that he is a lesser person that he even feels the need to get ahead amongst his own friends, fighting Gus to “feel the equal” of him (41). Yet his anger still translates most directly to the white people whom he blames for it. He describes the deep and "inarticulate hate" he feels toward Jan and Mary but cannot place the immediate cause of it. This is the partial and subconscious reason that Bigger kills Mary (67). For the first time, Bigger feels a semblance of control over his situation and over the white world that Mary represents in that moment. However, Bigger also knows very consciously that if he is discovered in her room he will be accused of rape just for being black, and so he knows his only option is to make sure he isn’t discovered. In this way, though it was not entirely on purpose, the violent act of suffocating Mary comes about as a result of Bigger’s
In the novel the Native Son, the author Richard Wright explores racism and oppression in American society. Wright skillfully merges his narrative voice into Bigger Thomas so that the reader can also feel how the pressure and racism affects the feelings, thoughts, self-image, and life of a Negro person. Bigger is a tragic product of American imperialism and exploitation in a modern world. Bigger embodies one of humankind’s greatest tragedies of how mass oppression permeates all aspects of the lives of the oppressed and the oppressor, creating a world of misunderstanding, ignorance, and suffering.
In the heated trial that determines whether Bigger Thomas will live or die, his supportive defense attorney exclaims, “You cannot kill this man, your Honor, for we have made it plain that we do not recognize that he lives!” Living in the Chicago slums as a poor, uneducated young black man whose only confidence can come from acts of violence, Bigger Thomas of Richard Wright’s novel Native Son is destined to meet a poor fate. Anger and hopelessness are a daily reality for him as he realizes that his life has no real meaning. When he accidentally murders a young, rich, white woman, however, his actions begin to have meaning as he accepts the crime as his own, even while he lies to the authorities. Bigger is, of course, taken down by a society who takes offense at the remarks of his supporters and seeks to justify itself. Bigger himself is doomed, but his emotions, his actions, and his motivations all help to give the reader a window into the mind of a criminal and a repressed inner city African American.
The essay “Notes of a Native Son” takes place at a very volatile time in history. The story was written during a time of hate and discrimination toward African Americans in the United States. James Baldwin, the author of this work is African American himself. His writing, along with his thoughts and ideas were greatly influenced by the events happening at the time. At the beginning of the essay, Baldwin makes a point to mention that it was the summer of 1943 and that race riots were occurring in Detroit. The story itself takes place in Harlem, a predominantly black area experiencing much of the hatred and inequalities that many African-Americans were facing throughout the country. This marks the beginning of a long narrative section that Baldwin introduces his readers to before going into any analysis at all.
In Native Son, Richard Wright introduces Bigger Thomas, a liar and a thief. Wright evokes sympathy for this man despite the fact that he commits two murders. Through the reactions of others to his actions and through his own reactions to what he has done, the author creates compassion in the reader towards Bigger to help convey the desperate state of Black Americans in the 1930’s.
James Baldwin had a talent of being able to tell a personal story and relate it to world events. His analysis is a rare capability that one can only acquire over an extensive lifetime. James Baldwin not only has that ability, but also the ability to write as if he is conversing with the reader. One of his most famous essays, “Notes of a Native Son,” is about his father’s death. It includes the events that happened prior to and following his father’s death. Throughout this essay, he brings his audience into the time in which he wrote and explains what is going on by portraying the senses and emotions of not only himself, but as well as the people involved. This essay has a very personal feeling mixed with public views. Baldwin is able to take one small event or idea and shows its place within the “bigger picture.” Not only does he illustrate public experiences, but he will also give his own personal opinion about those events. Throughout “Notes of a Native Son” Baldwin uses the binary of life versus death to expand on the private versus public binary that he also creates. These two binaries show up several times together showing how much they relate to each other.
In his novel, Native Son, Richard Wright favors short, simple, blunt sentences that help maintain the quick narrative pace of the novel, at least in the first two books. For example, in the following passage: "He licked his lips; he was thirsty. He looked at his watch; it was ten past eight. He would go to the kitchen and get a drink of water and then drive the car out of the garage. " Wright's imagery is often brutal and elemental, as seen in his frequently repeated references to fire, snow, and Mary's bloody head.