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The Impacts Of Society Oppression On The Main Character In The Novel Native Son

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“Violence is a personal necessity for the oppressed...It is not a strategy consciously devised. It is the deep, instinctive expression of a human being denied individuality.” (Wright, PAGE 45). Native Son (1939) is a novel written by the American author Richard Wright. It tells the story of 20-year-old Bigger Thomas, a black youth living in utter poverty in a poor area on Chicago's South Side in the 1930s. Richard Nathaniel Wright was born on September 4, 1908 at Rucker's Plantation. Bigger Thomas is a poor uneducated, twenty year old man in the 1930’s Chicago, that lives in a house with his little sister and brother and his mom in a one bedroom apartment in a poor neighborhood in Chicago. Bigger does not have the same opportunities as whites because of his race. To get money Bigger and his gang have robbed many black owned businesses. He does not own white business because he knows if he rob any white business the cops we come looking for him and won’t stop. He knows that if he robs blacks business the cops won’t care as much and won't really do much. Bigger mom preteches to him about getting a job working for the rich white man Mr. Dalton. Bigger gets the job he started working as a chauffeur and one day Bigger places Mary on her bed, Mary’s blind mother, Mrs. Dalton, enters the bedroom. Though Mrs. Dalton cannot see him, her ghostlike presence terrifies him. Bigger worries that Mary, in her drunken condition, will reveal his presence. He covers her face with a pillow and accidentally smothers her to death. In native son the factors that greatly impacted Bigger’s perspective on life was his friends,family and his employer and jail.

In addition, to that Bigger’s family is one thing that puts a big impact on his perspective of life. Bigger’s mom is very supportive of him because she only wants the best for him and emphasizes alot to him about talking about the job that the Daltons are offering, and she wants her son to stop hanging out with the gang of boys he spends time with because they are no good.They are no good because they have robbed people and cause fights in public places. Bigger’s mom said to Bigger, “You’ll regret how you living some day,” she went on. “If you don’t stop running with that gang of yours and do right you’ll end up where you never thought you would. You think I don’t know what you boys is doing, but I do. And the gallows is at the end of the road you are traveling, boy. Just remember that” (Wright ,20). This shows that Bigger’s mom is caring, she wants the best for him, and only wants him to be an active member of society. Bigger’s mom also always brings the job for the Daltons so Bigger can help bring in money for their family and reiterated she doesn't want him hanging out with that gang. Bigger’s mom expresses her desire for Bigger to become more for himself and the family by telling him, “If you get that job,” his mother said in a low, kind tone of voice, busy slicing a loaf of bread, “I can fix up a nice place for you children. You could be comfortable and not have to live like pigs” (Wright, 21).

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Most Importantly the thing that impacted Bigger’s perspective on life is the Daltons and facing jail time. When Bigger was in jail he said,“You asked me questions nobody ever asked me before. You knew that I was a murderer two times over, but you treated me like a man” Max has an understanding of Bigger's feelings to the extent of why Bigger acted the way he did. Max does not understand Bigger's new feelings at the time near his death. Bigger had shared feelings with Max that he had not ever been honest with himself. The white people at the jailhouse and in the courtroom did not classify him as a human being, they called him a ‘black ape’. Max was a white lawyer that was trying to help Bigger because he understood where he is coming from even though Max knew Bigger killed Mary and Bessie. Max is the only person that treated Bigger like a man as he genuinely held a conversation with Bigger. While Bigger was thinking to himself, he said, “I didn't know I was really alive in this world until I felt things hard enough to kill for 'em...” (Wright 295). This thought shows that threw out Bigger’s life he did not have much feelings for life and that all of his life he basically felt like he was not a person that people respected. Also Bigger having the feeling of always be powerless.

In Conclusion Bigger perspective on life gets changed dramatically throughout the book, he faces oppression from society and denial. Which had a big impact on the choices he made, which was robbing with his gang for money. Bigger did this not for fun but to help his family get out of poverty. But people didn't really understand his state of mind and respected him as a human being so they couldn't really get this viewpoint on things. In addition Max was the only person that respected Bigger as a human being .In native son the factors that greatly impacted Bigger’s perspective on life was his friends,family and his employer and jail.

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The Impacts Of Society Oppression On The Main Character In The Novel Native Son. (2021, September 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 23, 2024, from
“The Impacts Of Society Oppression On The Main Character In The Novel Native Son.” Edubirdie, 16 Sept. 2021,
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