Role of Bigger Thomas in Native Son by Richard Wright

Role of Bigger Thomas in Native Son by Richard Wright

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Bigger Thomas, the protagonist of Native Son, by Richard Wright, expresses the role of a poor, uneducated black man. Bigger lived in a time where racism was very common in the society. Wright shows us through him, how bad the situation was. Due to his lack of education, Bigger had to work menial labor. Thus, he was forced to live in a one room apartment with his family. He felt trapped all his life, resenting, hating, and fearing the whites, whom he felt controlled his life. He views white people as a collective, overpowering force that tells him where to live, where to work, and what to do. The main focus of Wright?s novel is to show the effects of racism on one?s mind. Bigger has lived a life defined by the fear and anger he feels toward whites for as long as he can remember. Perhaps that is what leads him to do the crimes that he does.
Bigger develops the main action of the book when he kills Mary Dalton. In fact, it makes him feel as though his life actually has a meaning. He feels as if he has the power to assert himself against the whites. Wright does not try to show Bigger as a hero, because of his brutality and capacity for violence which is extremely disturbing, especially in the scene where he shoves Mary Dalton?s dead body in to the burning furnace in order to hide it. Wright?s main point is that Bigger becomes a brutal killer just because the dominant white culture fears that he will. By fearing whites, Bigger only contributes to the cycle of racism and fuels it even more. However, after meeting Max, he begins to redeem himself, actually recognizing whites as individuals for the first time in his life.
But the social injustice does not end there, after killing Mary Dalton, Bigger goes to Bessie, his girlfriend and tells her everything. Recognizing that Bessie might tell anyone, Bigger kills her too and is than arrested by the police. There, the injustice takes place. When Bigger was arrested, and
jailed, he received constant harassment. He only faced two choices, either to confess, or be lynched by the white crowed. Bigger knew deep down, that he was going to die anyhow. But Max, his lawyer, reminded him that he could still win the case and be free. Another example of the injustice is that when Bigger was eventually caught, the pubic and the media press automatically determine that he is guilty of not only killing Mary, but also rapping her before killing her.

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Moreover, the white authorities and the white mob use Bigger?s crime as an excuse to terrorize the ENTIRE black community.
The quote I chose, that I feel represents Bigger and his life is:

This clearly symbolizes how Bigger?s life was. All his life, he had someone tell him what to do. First it was the white people in general. Than when he worked, it was the Daltons. Now, that he was in jail, it was Max. In a sense, it was the whites again, since they seemed to control the decision of the court. He felt as if death could be his only ticket out of this hard, hated life. Now he realized that he had been a victim of racism all his life. He begins to accept that he is weaker than the much dominant whites. Now this time, he is again waiting for Max and the court to tell him what to do. I picked this quote specifically over all the others, because it explains the basic cycle of Bigger?s life. In general, the basic cycle of an average black man at that time. All his life, he had others telling him what to do. But when he killed another human for the first time, it made him feel free. It made him feel as though he others weren?t superior to him after all. A sense of equality touched his heart.
This is the argument Max, his lawyer used with the court, but considering the biased and unfair court, Bigger was still sentenced to death.
Bigger Thomas is the main focus of the book. The whole theme of the story is based on Bigger?s life and how the society around him has affected him. Bigger?s role in the story, changes from time to time. Almost throughout the entire story, he plays a key role in shaping the climax. He is the main focus of the entire story. When Bigger and Mary Dalton get drunk at the bar, which the rising action. Bigger killing Mary and his girlfriend, marks the climax. And his trial and relationship with Max, is the falling action. So almost all the events that take place in the novel, Bigger is somehow involved in all of them. Wright tries to show us that Bigger?s story is an inherently American story. Bigger wasn?t always like this, the direct expose to racial abuse has made him like this. He is not an alien, or outside the American culture, rather, a product of racism, relevant to the title, ?Native Son?.
Bigger?s story to me at least, seemed much more interesting than The Glass Menagerie, which was just a love story. I feel that though the other story has its importance and weight, Wright?s Native Son is still more important of an issue that the other one. That?s because what Wright tries to show in his novel, the effects of racism of one?s brain, can sometimes still be seen in our own country. However, not much common, but one must admit there is still some racism in America. I believe that?s because racism can never be eliminated from ones mind. There will always be a race, or something specific about a race, that one doesn?t like. You might not know of it, but there will always be something you don?t like about a race. And that, is indeed human nature.
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