Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Thoughts on Bigger

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When Richard Wright wrote the novel Native Son he used the main character, Bigger, to convey a message to the readers. This message is that people can be reduced to their natural animalistic state where they feel that when you are attacked or scared your only options are to fight, flee, and freeze. This can be caused by outside forces such as a person’s surroundings and history. Bigger’s use of these three options is shown through three character traits, his violence, spontaneousness, and his fear.

First, Bigger is violent at many points throughout the book. The first sign of Bigger’s violence was in the very beginning of the book when he and Buddy killed the rat. Another sign of Bigger’s violence is when Gus shows up late to Doc’s. “He made a long step as graceful as an animal leaping, threw out his left foot and tripped Gusto the floor. Gus turned over to rise, but Bigger was on top of him, with the knife open and ready.” (Wright 8) Binger’s violence is directly related to the message that Richard Wright is trying to convey to his readers, it shows that when Bigger is faced with a problem instead of facing the problem he chooses to fight through violence.

Next, Bigger is spontaneous. Bigger doesnt think before he does many things, this trait leads him to do things that he wouldn’t normally do. For example, Bigger holds the pillow over Mary’s face so that he could keep her quiet without even thinking about what could happen to her if he continued to do that. “The reality of the room fell from him; the vast city of white people that sprawled outside took its place she was dead and he had killed her. He was a murderer, a

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Negro murderer, and a black murderer. He had killed a white woman.” (Wright 87). Bigger not thinking about what could happen to Mary, caused him to unknowingly take away Mary’s life. This event was a catalyst for many other problems that face Bigger throughout the book. Another time when Bigger showed his spontaneous nature was when he rapes Bessie; he just did it without thinking. This trait conveys Richard Wright’s message because after doing all these things Bigger is forced to turn to his animalistic option of flight. He runs away from these problems and doesn’t face them like he should.

Finally, Bigger is scared. Bigger’s fear causes him to do things such as attack Gus in the pool hall, burn Mary’s body, kill Bessie, and run away and hide from the police. “He kept this knowledge of fear thrust firmly down in him; his courage to live depended upon how successful his fear was hidden from his consciousness.” (Wright 8) this shows that Bigger fights Gus because of his fear. Another time when Bigger shows his fear is when he kills Mary out of fear for Mrs. Dalton catching him in his room. After the police found him and tried to capture him for doing all these things, Bigger froze, he became dead to the world that surrounded him. This is another way that Richard Wright conveys his message to the readers.

Richard Wright effectively uses Bigger as a symbol to convey a message to his readers through Bigger’s violence, spontaneousness, and fear. Richard Wright uses Bigger as a tool for doing this because he has all these traits that

make it easy to show how someone turns to their animal instincts. This story shows people that they should face their problems, or else many more worse things can happen as a result of fighting, fleeing, or freezing.

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