Native Son by Richard Wright is a novel written about a black boy trying to grow up in a white man’s world. Bigger, the main charter, is growing up in a typical black neighborhood. He is the only man of the house so he must help his mother support them. In this novel it is important to understand that Bigger is prone to violence. In every tough situation he gets stuck in he refers to a violent action. This can be seen by the way he treats his friends and family.
Richard Nathaniel Wright was born on September 4, 1908 on a Mississippi plantation. During Wright’s childhood he was often hungry. This allowed Wright to write passionately and eloquently about the meaning of suffering in the lives of oppressed and exploited people because that suffering was an integral part of his own life. The Communist Party had been the only one to take a deep interest in Wright’s life and had at one time offered to teach him to write. Richard Wright died on November 28, 1960, at the age of 52 in Paris.
Choose a person who had the most influence on Bigger. I feel that Max had the most influence on Bigger. Max helped Bigger realize what he had done wrong and how that not all white people were out to get the black man. At times Bigger felt that Max was only trying to hurt him but I think that deep down inside, Bigger knew Max was only there to help him.
A wave of excited voices swept over the room.
Bigger’s fingers gripped the arms of the chair.
Max’s hand touched his shoulder, Bigger turned
and Max whispered,
In the capacity of Bigger Thomas’ lawyer. I’d
like to state that he does not wish to testify here (328).
This quote shows that Max was looking out for Bigger’s best wishes. Max knew that if Bigger had testified the lawyers would have pounded him with questions and made him seem more guilty that he already was. I also think that it showed Bigger that Max cared about him and showed Bigger that he was going to help him though the trial.
“Your honor, I have no desire to be disrespectful
to this court, but I must be honest. A man’s life is
at stake. And not only this man a criminal, but he is
also a black criminal. And such he comes into this court
under a handicap, notwithstanding our pretensions that
all are equal before the law” (382).
Max is showing not only the court, but the nation as a whole, that there is no way that Bigger can receive a fair trial. Bigger and Max both know this. I also think that Bigger knows he is going to die Max is the only one trying to help him. Max is trying to do the impossible. That is make a black man innocent in a white man’s court.
Max not only had a major influence on Bigger, but he was one of the only people that cared about him and did not judge him by the color of his skin. I think that Max had a significant influence on the judge even though Bigger did receive the death penalty.
Look at Jan and tell whether he is a realistic charter or not. I feel that Jan could be a realistic person but his views on topics are too exaggerated and Jan is too forgiving.
In the pale yellow sheen of the street lamp
they faced each other . . . Bigger had his hand inside
his shirt pocket on his gun
What all this about, Bigger? I haven’t done anything
to you Bigger. Jan’s presence condemned
him it was Jan’s innocence that made anger rise in him (171).
Jan, I think, is too forgiving to be realistic. How can a man that was just lied about be questioning his accuser on what was said about him? If I were Jan, I would want to kill Bigger for making up the whole story and lying about me. Jan not only forgives Bigger, but he wants to help Bigger by getting him a lawyer to defend Bigger in court.
“Let me be on your side, Bigger” Jan said.
I can fight this thing with you, just like you’ve
started it. I can come from all of those white people
and stand here with you. I got a friend his name is Max.
He wants to help you (289).
Jan wants to have his friend Max help him in court. How could any human being be this forgiving? Jan was not only accused of the crime but he was directly involved in it because of Mary being his girlfriend.
Discuss two themes and choose which one you like the best. The two themes that I am going to discuss are: How Bigger awakes to the fact that he killed Mary and How Bigger thinks that it is Bessie’s and Mary’s fault that he killed them.
At the beginning of Book II Bigger is struggling to come to reality that he has in fact killed Mary. He also must face the fact that he had killed and that he killed a white women. Subconsciously he denies killing Mary but I know that Bigger knows he killed her.
He would have to go over his story and
make it foolproof . . .
Oh, hell, what had happened had happened and
he would stick to his story (126).
This quote shows that Bigger knows that he has killed Mary. He is trying to prefect his story to the best of his ability but he is unable to comprehend that this is all very real and that he is in serious trouble.
How does Bigger think that the murders he committed were Mary’s and Bessie’s fault? Bigger knows that he has killed two people, but for Bigger’s own sanity he tries to blame the two women. Bigger feels that it was Mary’s fault and that he had to smother her with a pillow when she came home drunk after making him eat and drink with her after he didn’t want to. When he killed Mary, he had to kill her because it was Bessie that kept nagging him to tell her of his scheme. Bigger felt that he had to kill these two women.
He was rigid; not moving. This was the way it had to
be. Then he took a deep breath and his hand gripped
the brick and shot upward and paused a second
and then plunged downward through the darkness (237).
For choosing a topic I am going to choose how Bigger felt he had to kill the two women. I think that the murders prove one thing that Bigger can be a man himself. In Bigger’s life Bessie and Mary are the most meaningful things that ever happened to Bigger Thomas.
Compare and contrast Native Son with The Awakening. I think that the two books can be compared in the basis of that in both novels someone was looking for freedom. In The Awakening Edna was looking for freedom from her husband. She was tired of being restricted in what she could do. Edna wanted to be her own person.
In Native Son Bigger is looking for freedom in things that he is allowed to do. Bigger wants to be allowed to do the same things as the white man. Bigger has always been told that he cannot hold certain jobs in this world. Both Bigger and Edna wanted things that neither of them would see in their lifetimes.
My opinion of this book is very good. I enjoyed reading Native Son. I was amazed with the graphic descriptions of how Richard Wright could describe how Bigger killed Mary and stuffed her in the furnace. Wright captured and held my attention throughout the entire novel. I hated the way the book ended though I thought that somehow it would go on and say that somehow, someway Bigger would get out of the death penalty. I feel that Max in his closing statement made an accurate description of what Bigger was feeling at the time that he murdered both Mary and Bessie.