Richard Wright's Novel, "Native Son". Essay

1326 words - 5 pages

Richard Wright's novel, Native Son, consists of various main and supporting characters who exhibit a diverse array of personalities and expression. Each character's action defines their individual personalities and belief systems. The main character, Bigger Thomas has personality traits spanning various aspects of human nature including actions motivated by fear, a quick temper, and a high degree of intelligence.Bigger reveals various personality traits through his actions. Many of his actions demonstrate an overriding response to fear, which stems from his exposure to a harsh social climate in which there is a bright line between acceptable behavior for whites and acceptable behavior for blacks. His swift anger and destructive impulses stem from that fear. They appear in the opening scene when he fiercely attacks a huge rat. The same murderous impulse reappears when his secret dread of robbing the delicatessen impels him to commit a vicious assault on his friend Gus. Bigger commits both brutal murders not in rage or anger, but as a reaction to fear.He fears being caught in the act of doing something socially unacceptable and being punished. Although Bigger later tells Max that Mary Dalton's behavior toward him made him hate her, it is not hate which causes Bigger to smother her to death, rather a feeble attempt to evade detection by her mother. The fear of being caught with a white woman overwhelmed his common sense and dictated his actions.He attempted to murder Bessie because of his intense fear of the consequences of "letting" her live. Bigger realized that he could not take Bessie with him or leave her behind and concluded that killing her could provide her a "merciful" end.Wright conveys the emotional forces that drive Bigger are conveyed by describing Bigger's actions. Rage plays a key part in Bigger's basic nature, but does not directly motivate the murders he commits. Rage does not affect Bigger's intelligence and quick thinking. This becomes evident during the interview with Briton. The detective makes Bigger so angry that the interrogation becomes a game to Bigger, a game of logic and wills, of playing the stupid Negro, and telling the Man exactly what he wants to hear. The game Bigger plays during the interrogation shows his great intelligence and ability to think quickly on his feet.Bigger also displays his intelligence in creating the ransom note. Using the situation to his advantage, Bigger writes a ransom note to extort money from Mary's parents. To make the note even more convincing and to camouflage his responsibility, Bigger signs the note with the communist symbol of a hammer and sickle.Bigger possesses few good qualities. He is an anti-hero. He commits rape, extorts the dead girl's parents, robs, and kills innocent people. He is not a simple victim of circumstance, but a habitual criminal acting out against society. While Bigger dominates the story, his appalling actions make him a man that the reader cannot look upon as a...

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