The Grapes of Wrath: Analysis of Chapter 25

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Jagpal Gill

September 24, 2008

How does the writer of the Tribune article portray Bigger to fulfill his rhetorical purpose?

In the Tribune article, "Negro Rapist faints at Inquest", the writer arouses a sense of fear towards Bigger Thomas by attacking him. The writer's language attacks Bigger Thomas and incites a belief that Bigger must be killed.

The journalist's use of diction establishes a negative connotation about Bigger. The write describes Bigger as "a brutish Negro"(31) with a "[protruding]" (13) jaw and as "a beast" (14). The speaker undermines Bigger by portraying him as an animal. The word "protrude" reminds the reader of a Neanderthal, thus stating that Bigger is not fully evolved. The journalist implies that Bigger needs to be killed because he does not belong in civilized white society. The speaker rarely uses Bigger's name, instead calling him "Negro sex-slayer" (2) and "black killer" (5). The author emphasizes Bigger's race by continually repeating 'Negro' and 'black' suggesting that only a black could commit a crime so horrible.

The word "slayer" connotes a sense of fear and intimidation because it implies that Bigger has killed many times. It also highlights his crime, thus making the reader more and more frightened by Bigger and enlisting in them a desire to see Bigger dead. The speaker juxtaposes Mary Dalton and muscular "beast" (25) with "abnormal" (11) strength, which "overpowered little Mary Dalton" (17). The speaker describes the relation between Mary and Bigger as that between a little girl and a powerful man. The writer states that Bigger could kill just about anyone because he has the strength. The author creates a threatening cloud hanging around Bigger bombarding him with endless humiliation, insults and providing a warning for whites.