Essay Bigger's Actions to Claim Equality in "Native Son"
900 Words4 Pages
In the 1930’s, the black population in Chicago was a minority. Blacks, even though they were “free men”, were actually trapped within the grasps of white society. Richard Wrights character Bigger is very much influenced by this way of life. In the early stages of Native Son, Bigger is angry at white society because he feels that he is powerless. However, as the novel progresses, the tables turn and Bigger, essentially, holds all the power.
In the early pages of Wrights novel, Bigger Thomas’s fear and anger with white society is evident. In a conversation with his friend Gus, Bigger says:
But I just can’t get used to it. I swear to God I can’t. I know I oughtn’t think about it, but I cant help it. Every time I think about it I feel like…show more content…
The knowledge that he had killed a white girl they loved and regarded as their symbol of beauty made him feel the equal of them, like a man who had been somehow cheated but had now evened the score. (Wright, 164)
Though Mary’s murder gives Bigger power and frees him of his fear, it also creates a new anger in him. He becomes angry at “his people” because of there unwillingness to fight for a change. Bigger is frustrated that black people will just sit back and work day in and day out for nothing and not think anything of it. Bigger’s anger toward black society is what ultimately leads to the brutal murder of Bessie. It frustrates him that Bessie is content with being powerless. Now that he has tasted power for him self, he doesn’t want to let it go. He kills Bessie because it is something he can do on his own free will. For the first time in his life, Bigger has found something that the white society doesn’t control. On page 240 of Wrights novel, Bigger realizes the hatred he has long had for blacks; something the murder of his girl friend satisfies.
He hated his mother for that way of hers which was like Bessie’s. What his mother had was Bessie’s whiskey, and Bessie’s whiskey was his mothers religion. He did not want to sit on a bench and sing, or lie on a corner and sleep. It was when he read the newspapers or magazines, went to the movies, or walked along the streets with crowds
I think that there are many reasons that could be used to explain his main fear, as the subtext of the question indicates. I think that White society does seem to be Bigger's predominant fear. There is a fear of what White society thinks of him when he cannot say anything to Mary's mother about him being in the room. His fleeing from White society's police and the relationship and perception he has about White society all result in his fears of it. His fears are certainly justified and well grounded in what is the reality for someone in Bigger's condition. Yet, they are fears and Wright might be using this to explore how African- Americans, particularly African- American males, perceive White society. The odd element in this configuration is that Bigger does believe in the American Dream. The belief that Bigger can actually find his own niche in the American Dream is one that inspires him to get the job that enables him to be near Mary in the first place. The fear of White society is enhanced by his desire to be close or to be a part of it. In this light, one can see his fear as a twisted condition of reality within it.