Similarities Between Bigger Thomas And Richard Wright
Wright Discussion Board
Review Richard Wright’s background and, in two at least two paragraphs, discuss similarities between Native Son and his life. Make sure you bring in examples from the text.
Both Bigger Thomas and Richard Wright endured jobs that they did not want in the face of poverty. Bigger Thomas was stuck working common jobs because of his lack of an education. He was unhappy and disappointed with where he was in life. Similarly, Richard Wright had to work many dreadful jobs, such as dishwasher and delivery boy, as a result of the economic crash due to World War I. Both were just biding their time until something seemingly better came along. For Wright, he was just saving money until he could move to Chicago. For Bigger, it was anything that could save him from working for the Dalton’s.
Another similarity I noticed was that both men became entangled with women who were ultimately bad for them. In 1939, Wright married a Russian-Jewish Ballet dancer named Dhimah Rose Meadman. They were only married about a year before they called for divorce. The marriage failed and Wright returned to New York. Bigger also became involved with a woman who would eventually, though unintendedly, send Bigger on a crime streak that would lead to his death. Bigger was uneasy around Mary and her communist boyfriend, both eager to prove their progressiveness. Their disregard for the social norms at the time and the appearance of Mary’s mother resulted in Bigger killing Mary and the array of other crimes he committed in the act of trying to get away with it.
In the opening pages of the novel, we are presented with the image of a large ugly black rat clinging to Bigger’s trousers. I believe that this confrontation with the rat is symbolic of the racism Bigger experiences in society. When the rat comes into the apartment, obviously hated, it rears up in defense. When it realizes that it is trapped in the apartment and cannot run, it tries to attack the dominating force and is ultimately killed. This event is similar to Bigger entering Mary’s room. When Mrs. Dalton enters the room, Bigger does the only thing he knows to do out of fear and even though he manages to escape that night, he is ultimately killed by the confrontation.
The most prominent color in the story in my opinion is white. White represents the oppression faced by Bigger and other black people. White people were viewed to Bigger as a single, swooping force that could easily overpower them. This is why he becomes fearful during the robbery of the white man’s store. Bigger also views the world as a place where only the white man rules. He mentions one time during the novel that he and his friends “guffawed… at the vast white world that sprawled and towered in the sun before them.” One can easily assume that this whiteness represents the power of the white man. This color is persecution, bigotry, and racism in the eyes of Bigger.
Bigger’s mother was extremely religious. She participated in it in Bigger’s eyes much as Bessie participated in alcohol consumption. Bigger saw both as an escape from the world. Bigger even wishes at one point to be able to receive the same comfort from religion that his mother did but knows it will never result in a concrete escape form the racist hatred he endures everyday as a black man. He inherently wishes for a life far removed from his own, but unfortunately he never gets to experience it. Even in the face of execution, he still refuses the religion and faith Rev. Hammond offers him. The hatred of his world has corrupted everything for him, even the sanctity of Christianity.
Bigger struggles with identity throughout the entirety of the book. He constantly feels like he is playing a part to escape ultimate despair, like playing tough for his gang. He would rather attack one of his own members instead of admitting his fear. Bigger faces perhaps one of his lowest moments of identity loss when he is reflecting on why he cannot admit to the murders of Bessie and Mary. Bigger thinks, “the telling [of why he killed them] would have involved an explanation of his entire life.” Here he knows that he will forever only be known for his crimes and his existence of a black man, not what drove him to the murders or who he was. He knew he could never admit the crimes because an admission would never bring with it “a sense of the deep, choking hate that had been his life, a hate that he had not wanted to have, but could not help but having.” The sadness felt by bigger in this passage was heart wrenching.
It is Mrs. Dalton’s physical blindness that prompts Bigger to murder Mary. He believes that if she cannot see him and he can keep Mary quiet, Mary will not reveal his presence. Metaphorically, this represents the racism that Bigger experiences as a black man. Mrs. Dalton is unable to literally see Bigger, but she also simultaneously represents other white people who fail to see black people (Bigger, specifically) as a human beings. The stereotypes of black people were so potent at the time that it caused them to live their lives in fear. It is why Bigger reacted in such a terrible way to Mary’s mother walking into the room. He was fearing for his life and did the only thing he could think to do that would save him. The crime then sent him tumbling down a road of no return.
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