Due To Racism In 1930's Chicago, Bigger Thomas Was Influenced To Commit An Action Unlike His Normal Judgement Would Allow.

1338 words - 5 pages

The Environmental Shaping of a Common Black ManThere was a line that separated the city of Chicago in the 1930's. It was not shown on any map, nor was it named on any street sign. Yet it was known by all; you stayed on your side of the line. No one actively enforced this "law" but everyone obeyed. The Black Belt, an area of poverty and grief-stricken African Americans, was isolated in a corner, apart from the rest of Chicago. Rarely, if ever, a man would cross over the line into the other part of the city. Being an African American in these times provided many difficulties for Bigger Thomas, the main character in Native Son, a novel written by Richard Wright. As a black man in a city of whites, Bigger had lived his life with an animosity toward those around him. This feeling of hatred was not an innate emotion, but one inherited by years of life in an environment governed by a racist white supremacist society. It was this feeling of spite that clouded Bigger's judgement and created unfortunate situations in which the actions he committed are not a result of Bigger's conscious thought, but his environment.Mr. Thomas, father of three, died in a riot while Bigger, the eldest child, was still a young boy. Bigger's mother struggled to raise her three children on a very meager allowance from a relief organization. With no person to support the family financially, the Thomas' had to rely on the relief for the source of all sustenance. All his life Bigger had been hassled to support his family, as he was the oldest male. "You going to take the job, ain't you, Bigger?" (14) "You know, Bigger, if you don't take that job the relief'll cut us off. We won't have any food." (16) With his family's livelihood in jeopardy, Bigger is forced to accept a job offered by the relief organization, even though he would rather do anything else. Bigger is required to do so, or he may have to live with the grim fact that his laziness and negligence brought starvation and death upon his family, moreover, to himself. Every morning, when Bigger leaves his deteriorated and decaying apartment, he observes a poster which greatens his loathing for white society. Every time he looks at the poster, it insults him and every other person in his neighborhood with a belittling message: "YOU CAN'T WIN!" (16) When Bigger sees this sign, he sees a large picture of a white man saying this directly to him. Bigger has no desire to make anything of himself, especially when he sees how blacks are treated in the world. He knows that he will not be able to work where he wants, or have a successful career, but he still must provide for his family and support them financially. With this in mind, the only way Bigger will ever experience the way that whites live is by pretending. " 'Let's play "white",' Bigger said, referring to a game of play-acting in which he and his friends imitated the ways and manners of white folks." (21) Unable to achieve his goals in life, due to racial discrimination,...

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