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Bigger's Self Realization in Native Son

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Bigger's Self Realization in Native Son

Although today we live in a nation, which has abolished

slavery, the gap between the whites and the blacks during the early stages of

America's development has plainly carried into the present. In Native Son,

author Richard Wright illustrates this racial gap, in addition to demonstrating

how white oppression upon blacks is capable of producing revengeful individuals,

not to mention being an immoral act in itself. Bigger Thomas is one of those

individuals, who discovers his capacity to rebel through acts of murder against

the white society, which has for long oppressed his family, friends, and himself.

By tracing Bigger's psyche from before the murder of Mary Dalton, into the

third book of the novel, and into the subconscious depths of the final scene,

the development of Bigger's self realization becomes evident.

An entire period of Bigger's life, up until the murder of Mary Dalton,

portrays him under a form of slavery, where the white society governs his state

of being. While he worked for the Daltons, "his courage to live depended upon

how successfully his fear was hidden from his consciousness"(44), and hate also

builds on top of this fear. Once he is in contact with Mary, his fears and hate

pour out in a rebellious act of murder, because to Bigger Mary symbolizes the

white oppression. In addition, he committed the act, "because it had made him

feel free for the first time in his life"(255). At last he feels he is in

control of his actions and mentality. He rebels against the burden of the white

man's torment. He had "been scared and mad all . . . [his] life...

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between Bigger and Max. Consequently, from this study of Bigger's psyche, it is

evident that the "Bigger That Might Have Been" is basically: 'a decent man';

such a result to become of Bigger, however, may only occur if Bigger's father

was present, his family was not so impoverished, or even if he had maintained

his job working honestly for the Daltons. To produce the "Bigger That Might

Have Been," slavery should never have occurred!

Sources Cited and Consulted

Collier-Thomas, John; et al. Chronology of the Civil Rights Movement. Chicago, IL: Henry Holt & Company, Inc., January 2000.

Neskahi, Arlie. "Anger Cycle Model." February 2003, 1998. http://www.rainbowwalker.com/anger/cycle.html

Wright, Richard. Native Son. 1940. New York, NY: First Perennial Classics, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, 1998.
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