Native Son By Richard Wright Research Paper
Why did the author name the main character Bigger?
The name Bigger is a harsh critique of the American culture. Bigger is America’s native son. He was conceived and raised as an African American in the United States. Consequently, he is an outcome of the social, local and cultural forces. His outcome is the fault of the American culture that bore and raised him. Bigger’s perception of being a non-human creature is also the fault of the American culture (Wright 253). It could be said that the name Bigger is a variation of the derogatory term for African Americans in the U.S.
The name Bigger is derived from the fear that was perceived by the African American men of the era in which the book was written. Fear is an emotion that is derived from the inability of controlling owns circumstances. Bigger demonstrates particular fear of the members of the white race and the authority that they can exercise over him. This is attributed to the perceptions that whites had toward African Americans during the era in which Wright (1940) was written. When Bigger was apprehended for his crimes, the people shouted “kill ‘im lynch ‘ imkill that ape” (Wright 253). This statement implies that the perspective that many of the members of the white race had at the time of the writing of Native Son perceived that African Americans were not equal. Bigger is acquainted with having the perceptions of fear during his entire existences. This fear is demonstrated when Bigger’s fears deter his accomplishing one of his plans. One of the quotes that manifest the fear is “He knew that the fear of robbing a white man has hold of him” (Wright 42).
What does this name represent and what is its significance in the story of Bigger’s life?
The name represents that symbolism of the lack of control that is generated by fear. Bigger details the manner by which living in the areas that he is restricted to living in causes him to perceive anger. Bigger is unsure how to channel the anger that he perceives. Consequently, the anger that is perceived by Bigger causes him to reside in a state of apprehensiveness with regards to white society. Bigger grows into the story as an African American youth who resides on the South Side of Chicago.
Bigger is stereotyped as an irate and illiterate threat to society. This perception is made on his complexion. The brutal homicide that he commits against Mary’s person causes a profound fear and derision in the white society. Bigger’s attorney Boris A. Max reviews the derision that is directed toward Bigger and states “They hate because they fear, and they fear because they feel that the deepest feelings of their lives are being assaulted and outragedThey are powerless pawns in a blind play of social forces” ( Wright 390) .
What factors contributed to Bigger’s decision to kill Mary?
Bigger’s decision to kill Mary are created by the awkward way that she tries to show him equality. The behavior that is exhibited by Mary causes fear in bigger. He rejects her cordiality. The apprehension that he feels toward a white woman treating him as an equal causes a level of fear that is the causal attribute of Bigger’s hatred. Bigger was accustomed to living in fear. The emotion of rear was the dominant characteristic in Bigger’s life. When Mary treats him a manner that he was not used to, he resents her. This is because she deprives him of the driving force in his life. Bigger states: “That is the way that I lived; I passed my days trying to defeat or gratify impulses in a world that I feared (Wright 42).
Bigger was afraid of women. Bigger lives in fear of what the responses of women. When Bigger realizes that he is paralyzed by fear and is blind to the truth that is not what Bigger wanted to hear. As a result he kills Mary. In the beginning of the story, Bigger exhibits rude behavior towards his mother, which causes her to perceive that she is exhausted and wants to “ lay down and quit” (Wright 13). Bigger’s mother also perceives his dislike of women and state that “The gallows will be the end of the road” for Bigger (Wright 13).
As Bigger was in the interview, Mary Dalton entered the room and initiated a series of inquires with regards to unions. The inquiries caused Bigger to experience discomfort. This was attributed to his fear of white society and the media. Bigger heard information from the media that the unions were bad. Bigger experiences confusion with regards to the manner that he should respond to Mary’s behavior. He was afraid that he was being mocked in a manner that was obscured. As it is his responsibility is to take Mary home, Mary becomes drunk and Bigger commits an accidental murder. “Frantically, he caught a corner of the pillow and brought it to her lips. He had to stop her from mumbling, or he would be caught” (Wright 85).
Bigger perceived that the idea of being in isolation with an intoxicated white woman caused bigger to feel intense fear. This fear was the causal attribute of his following his fearful impulses and using the pillow to suffocate her. Fear caused Bigger to commit homicide against Mary. Fear provided Bigger with the authority to use the pillow in order to muffle Mary’s mumbling in order to avoid detection andcapture by Mary’s mother (Wright 86).
Bigger despised the Dalton family. Why did he regards Mr. and Mrs .Dalton with “Yes sir” and “no ma’am”?
Bigger feels that the well-being of his family is vested with the Dalton family. Bigger’s mother demonstrates this when she states “you know Biggerif you don’t take that job the relief’ll cut us off” (Wright 16). His family’s livelihood was reliant on the characteristics of Mr. Dalton and Mary Dalton. Bigger always needed money. At the same time bigger new that the Dalton’s were charitable people who engaged in benevolent acts with regards to African Americans. He felt confused with the Daltons’ demonstrations of equity. Bigger had anger that was converted to fear of white people. In addition, the Dalton’s treated him with respect and gave him money. Bigger really needed the extra five dollars per week (Wright 54).
4. In what ways does wright portray Bigger’s day to day existence as a prison, even before he has committed any crimes?
Bigger and his family are captive to their socio economic condition. In the beginning of the story, when his family awakened, they were confronted by a rat. This was not a rat that is in fear. The rat was aggressive. The rat lunged at Bigger and took hold of his pants leg. Bigger was forced to use his strength to fight the rat from his pants leg (Wright 9). Bigger’s mother exclaims “That sonofabitch could cut your throat” (Wright 10). The living conditions were so deplorable in their apartment that they had to worry is the rats would attack the family members in their sleep. (Wright 10). Bigger was compelled to take a job in order to better his family’s living conditions (Wright 15). Therefore, his social and economic circumstances had him captive. Bigger was a prisoner in his own home with his own family.
Flight 1. If Bigger Killed Mary out of fear, why do you think that he killed Bessie?
Bigger killed Bessie due to her ability to tell the truth and incriminate him in the murder of Mary Dalton. Bigger is afraid of women, he is afraid of the manner by which they may respond. He had an adoration for Bessie. Bigger required a girlfriend. He had sex with Bessie. Love cannot be based solely on sex. The only amorous link that Biggie had with Bessie was sex. The living conditions and the personalities of Bessie and Bigger did not allow love to grow any further than sex (Wright 368).
What did she represent to him?
Bessie represented pleasure. Bigger wanted Bessie. Bessie liked to drink liquor. Bigger knew that in satisfying Bessie’s urges for liquor that she would yield to his sexual desires. When she was not drinking, she would frequently challenge Bigger (Wright 132).
What did Bigger accomplish in this act?
He knew that she would not continue to be a willing accomplice to Mary’s murder. The fact that Bessie knew about Mary’s Murder could cause Bigger’s plan to unravel. Therefore he had to eliminate her in order to reinforce the story of Mary Dalton’s kidnapping. “He could not take her with him and could not leave her behind “(Wright 235) Bigger was in apprehension that Bessie would become a hindrance to him. Once again, fear overtook Bigger. Bigger had to be dominant with Bessie. He would speak to her in commands Examples are “Shut up, now! Come on” (Wright 216) and “Let me in! Open the door” (Wright 166).
What parallels do you observe between Bigger’s reality and the reality of black boys and men today? Consider the recent news coverage of the relationship between systems of authority and Black men.
The parallels of Bigger’s situation and the situations of the African American boys and men of today are that the African American boys and men of today are marginalized to a similar extent that Bigger had been in the 1940s. It may not be as severe. The lack of opportunity and employment in many areas, especially Chicago is similar. Today may of the African American boys and men are forced into lives of crime due to their status in the American society. In the Trayvon Martin - George Zimmerman case, Martin was stereotyped prior to having done anything. The stereotypes that are perceived by society gave George Zimmerman the right of stalking the teenager and attacking him. Trayvon Martin was amide into a monster prior to having committed any crimes. There is clearly a double standard as is the case in the story Native Son. If the tables had been turned, if an armed twenty eight year old African American stalked a white teenager who was not armed, and committed homicide by shooting him fatally, the outcome of the trial would not have been the same (Williams 1).
Right before bigger is captured, he experiences a moment of clarity and resolve. Why did he stop fighting / running?
Bigger perceived the lack of ability with regards to administrating the circumstances in his life. This burden had placed upon Bigger from the beginning of the story. As Bugger comes to the realization that his destiny would be to receive a death by electrocution, he reflects upon his existence. Bigger always foresaw that he would perish by being sentenced to death by electrocution. As this premonition converts into a reality, Bigger perceives a perception of liberty that he had never experienced. Bigger reflects on the reasons that he placed himself in a position to receive a death sentence by electrocution to discover these truths. Had he been sleeping or blind during his entire existence? There was no way to tell now. It was too late” (Wright 335). As Bigger realizes that he is destined for death by electrocution, he resolves to live his remaining days with liberty (Wright 336).
What does Bigger represent to Britten and his mob as he is hunted through the city?
Bigger is perceived by the mob as being less than humans this is expressed with regards to the statement that is made by the mob upon his apprehension. The mob shouted: “kill ‘im lynch ‘ imkill that ape” (Wright 253).
Describe Bigger’s relationship with his defense lawyer? What were Max’s views on institutionalized racism and prejudice?
Bigger’s relationship with the lawyer comes to the realization that there are members of the white race who empathize with his situation. Boris a. Max, Bigger’s attorney provides a comprehensive plea for the reasons that Bigger should not be sentenced to death. However, Boris A. Max does not have the capacity of swaying the judge’s ruling.
Do you believe that Bigger could have been redeemed and rehabilitated?
It is difficult to say. Bigger was accustomed to living in fear his entire life. The fear became a part of his persona. The redemption should have taken place with the delegation of employment from the Dalton’s. However, Bigger was so accustomed to living in fear and so accustomed to being mistreated, that he had no other response. The fear had become an integral part of his personality. Rehabilitation could be seen as placing Bigger into a mental health facility. The application of psychotropic medications may have been able to subdue Bigger’s fear. However, the story was written in the context of 1940, not 2015.
Why do you think that the author titled this novel “Native Son”? What is Wright trying to explain about the system of racism and its impact on the psychological destruction of African Americans in the United States?
Wright ((1940) was applied as a harsh critique of the lack of opportunities that were afforded to African Americans in the 1940s. The 1940s marked the end of a period of economic hardship in the United States. The perception of fear in the novel titled Native Son provides the function of demonstrating the barriers that were present between the protagonist of the novel, Bigger and his environment. The fear that Bigger must live with on a daily basis provides obstructions to his actual perception with the manner that some white people would respond. Bigger views the world through eyes that are filled with hatred. The hatred succumbs to fear. This is a similar situation that is experienced by many of the African American boys and men today. They are marginalized by a society and forced to work at employment positions in which they do not receive sufficient compensation.
The moral of the story is that racism has become an institution in the United States. In accordance with the views that are expressed by Wright (1940), the members of the African American race should receive some characteristic of restitution for the hardships that were experienced by many African Americans throughout history. The novel of the Native Son is basically one episode of many stories. There are many of our African American youth and adults who have not been able to attain their fullest capacity as an attribute of the double standards in American society. The case between Trayvon Williams and George Zimmerman is one case out of many that details the obstacles and the monsterization of the African American males. The monsterization of Bigger when he is apprehended by the mob is characteristic of the manner by which a rabid animal would be treated.
Williams, Patricia J., “The monsterization of Trayvon Martin.” The Nation, 31 July 2013. Web 8 February 2013. http://www.thenation/article/175547/monsterization – trayvon- martin#
Wright, Richard. Native son. Montreal Canada: McGill- Queens Press, 1940. Print.
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