Native Son Essay

1269 words - 5 pages

“Do you believe in fate Neo,” Morpheus asks. “No,” Neo responds. “Why not?” “Because I don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my life,” Neo explains. In this scene (from the blockbuster smash hit The Matrix) a parallel can be drawn between Neo and Bigger Thomas (the protagonist in Richard Wright’s novel Native Son) because Bigger shares Neo’s feelings about fate. Bigger Thomas, a boy who has grown up with the chains of white society holding him back from opportunity, has only one solution to escape from the white walls which are closing in on him. His solution is to kill two women (one of whom is the daughter of a rich white family) to demonstrate that he is fed up with his life being controlled by fate. The author does an exceptional job in creating a theme that illustrates how racism takes away the self-control of the oppressed, thus leaving their lives in the hands of fate. The theme that racism doesn’t allow the oppressed to control their lives can be demonstrated through the symbolism of the rat, the poster outside of Bigger’s apartment, and Bigger’s encounter with the “nut” in jail.

        To Bigger’s chagrin he is not in control of his life. His life is dictated by a large group of white people’s false belief of superiority. With every cause there is an effect, and the effect that this burden has on Bigger turns him into an animal, living for only one thing, survival.
“There he is again, Bigger!” the woman screamed, and the tiny, one-room apartment galvanized into violent action. A chair toppled as the woman, half dressed in her stocking feet, scrambled breathlessly upon the bed. Her two sons, barefoot, stood tense and motionless, their eyes searching anxiously under the bed and chairs. The girl ran into the corner, half stooped and gathered the hem of he slip into both of her hands and held it tightly over her knees… A huge black rat squealed and leaped at Bigger’s trouser-leg and snagged it in his teeth hanging on… Bigger aimed and let the skillet fly with a heavy grunt. There was a shattering of wood as the box caved in… The woman screamed and hid her face in her hands. Bigger tiptoed forward and peered. “I got ‘im,” he muttered [.] (4-6)

At first glance this quote could seem meaningless, but later the reader learns in the book that a parallel can be drawn between the big black rat and the big black Bigger. Like the rat, Bigger is not wanted in his environment, any of his actions are obsolete because it is his destiny to be the scum of the earth. Not for any other reason than the white people have taken control of Bigger’s life. They dictate what he can and can’t do, leaving his life no longer in his hands, but the hands of fate. “On all fours he scrambled to the next ledge then turned and looked back” (264). “He continued to crawl” (265). “Bigger’s lips pulled back, showing his white teeth” (336). All these excerpts are the author’s way of illustrating to reader that Bigger and the rat are closely...

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