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Research paper topic: Native Son: Character Actions Defines Their Individual - 1088 words
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.. doomed to remain in the pits of the slums. A lost outlook on life represents Bessie's most outstanding personality trait. Through her self-awareness she reiterates in multiple references that she exists as a "lost" soul. Bessie circumstances prevent her from going any farther in her life. She briefly escapes with the use of alcohol which Bigger provides her in exchange for "love".
An aura of death surrounds her even before Bigger murders her. Like Bessie, Bigger's mother appears trapped on a one way street going nowhere. Conflicts An interesting aspect of Native Son develops from the many levels of conflict occurring simultaneously in the book. On a superficial level personal conflicts arise, but deeper conflicts about race, social status, and political view points drive these superficial conflicts. When the book opens Bigger has an argument with his mother, and then his sister, about getting a job. Confrontations like these happen constantly throughout this novel, but neither Bigger nor the other characters grow from these conflicts.
The characters act out in rage due to stress caused by social circumstances. Bigger's violent temper gets him into various conflicts with his gang, a man on the roof whom he attacks, and the fellow who owns the pool hall. Although these actions demonstrate acts of rage, they do not portray the true motivation for Bigger's actions. The cause of Bigger personal conflicts stem his fear of repercussion for his actions as a black in a white dominated society. His fear of the consequences of being discovered with a drunk white woman, drive Bigger Thomas to smother Mary Dalton. This fear arose because of the non physical barriers, set up by society, between white and black people. This tension made Bigger angry while he was forced to secretly drive Jan and Mary around in the car and finally made him snap. Like Bigger, the entire city demonstrates conflicts based upon fear brought about by racial segregation.
During the progress of the man hunt, blacks and whites go at each others throats. These various conflicts all stem from fear and racial hatred. Although Richard Wright portrays the segregation of the blacks, he does not omit the segregation of various social groups such as the communists. In contrast, Jan and Max's efforts to save Bigger stem from a struggle for equality. They too feel the constraints of oppression, but have a philosophy and social position with which to rebel.
Themes Frustration and hopelessness develop as major themes of the story. When Bigger and his friend Gus watch a sky writing plane, Bigger expresses frustration in his statement "I could fly one of them things if I had a chance." Discussing the impossibility of accomplishment in the white-controlled world, Bigger expresses hopelessness, saying, "They don't let us do nothing." When Gus reminds Bigger that they have always known this, Bigger agrees, but insists that he cannot accustom himself to it. "Every time I think about it," he says, "I feel like somebody's poking a red-hot iron down my throat." Today a good example of the same type of frustration can be seen on the various music videos done by black artists. These video portray, poor education and a lack of opportunities afforded to blacks. Oppression, hate, and the separatism between whites and blacks also arises as a main theme. Bigger represents the oppressed but rebellious black, in contrast the Dalton's represent naive whites, and Jan and Max represent the oppressed communists. These various characters hate each other without comprehend the underlying social cause.
Only the oppressed groups come to help and forgive each other by the end of the novel, while the oppressors still asking for bitter vengeance. The separatism become obvious while Bigger when sits in the car with Mary and Jan. He feels afraid and uncomfortable being treated like an equal and being allowed to sit near them. This separatism also made his oppressors blindly ignorant of the realities of social oppression. Separatism affects both sides of the color line. The characters consider each other as separate entities, never interacting on an equal basis.
Social ignorance allows the scapegoating of Bigger, to vent the anger and rage built up from by many years of tension between the races. A good example of separatism and oppression in our area shows up in the conflicts between Whites and Cubans. Arguments about English as the official language as the official language of the US represent the manifestations of this conflict. A notable theme that the author portrays through Bigger's actions come from the true meaning of freedom to the oppressed. Bigger's discovered "freedom" came to him in two instances, in both cases while committing murder.
With the death of Mary Dalton, Bigger starts to realize that for the first time he has gone against the law. Breaking the proverbial barrier and the proper limits of what a black man can do in society he is no longer controlled or restrained by another mans rules. This idea expands to note that when Bigger himself defines the rules, he makes himself free. Interestingly serial killers in our society have multiplied, a common trait that they all possess is abuse in their early lifetime. Perhaps they act out of the same misguided need for freedom that Bigger found when committing murder. Author's Beliefs Bigger, his family, and Bessie all feel the affects of separatism and oppression. Richard Wright believes in the immorality of oppression. He uses his book as a tool to vent his frustration, at the world that segregates negros. His characters, themes and conflicts probably originate from his own experience of separatism. By using such a wide range of characters, he gives the readers who are not black an insight into the horrifically desperate situations many poor blacks experience.
Bigger's actions toward Jan and Mary portray his resignation to the social inequity of the color barrier. He acts simply, as a subservient "yessah". It appears the author believes the true wall of separation between whites and blacks is an almost impassable division. Jan and Max base their decisions on the equality of man. Having a moral basis for action leads them to have a means to deal with oppression and the ability to hope.
In contrast, Bigger accepts separatism as an immutable condition, and rebels against it by committing crimes. Bigger receives punishment for his actions. The author would appears to support socialist concepts as the proper rebellion against oppression. He seems to believe in the equality of men and the value of demonstrating it in everyday actions.
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