To begin, African Americans living in the Black Belt during the 1930s, like Bigger Thomas, live in poverty. This teaches them from the start they are substandard to the rest of society. In fact, in the middle of the 1930s, “the income of many Chicago families put them in a position where they could not afford decent housing” (Greetham 37). During this time, Chicago was experiencing a housing shortage from the Great Depression. The whites were also restricting blacks, by keeping them on their side of the city, known as the “Black Belt.” In the novel, Bigger states, “They keep us bottled up here like wild animals, he thought. He knew that black people could not go outside of the Black Belt to rent a flat; they had to live on their side of the ‘line’” (Wright 249). From the beginning of his life, he learns he is inferior to the whites, who live on the other side of the neighborhood. On top of that, “living in dense, overcrowded, kitchenette apartments, often with multiple families sharing one bathroom, African Americans inhabited the worst housing in the city” (Greetham 37). Furthermore, Bigger, along with numerou...
... middle of paper ...
... powerless. In fact, he mentions how, “‘We live here and they live there. We black and they white. They got things and we ain 't. They do things and we can 't. It 's just like living in jail. Half the time I feel like I 'm on the outside of the world peeping in through a knothole in the fence…’” (20). Bigger is not a character one sympathizes with or feels sorry for, but rather his actions are in direct relation to the way the countless whites treat him. The heinous crime he commits is one he believes is fate, because almost every white person has the preconceived notion that African Americans are the guilty ones. He is just another black monster, whose black skin condemns him to a bleak destiny. “He was their property, heart and soul, body and blood; what they did claimed every atom of him, sleeping and waking; it colored life and dictated the terms of death” (331).
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