Richard Wright's "Native Son"

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Character Actions Defines Their Individual Personalities and

Belief Systems

Richard Wright's novel, Native Son, consisted of various main and

supporting character to deliver an effective array of personalities and

expression. Each character's actions defines their individual

personalities and belief systems. The main character of Native Son, Bigger

Thomas has personality traits spanning various aspect of human nature

including actions motivated by fear, quick temper, and a high degree of

intelligence. Bigger, whom the novel revolves around, portrays various

personality elements through his actions.

Many of his action suggest an overriding response to fear, which stems from

his exposure to a harsh social climate in which a clear line between

acceptable behavior for white's and black's exists. His swift anger and his

destructive impulses stem from that fear and becomes apparent in the

opening scene when he fiercely attacks a huge rat. The same murderous

impulse appears when his secret dread of the delicatessen robbery impels

him to commit a vicious assault on his friend Gus.

Bigger commits both of

the brutal murders not in rage or anger, but as a reaction to fear. His

typical fear stems from being caught in the act of doing something

socially unacceptable and being the subject of punishment. Although he

later admits to Max that Mary Dalton's behavior toward him made him hate

her, it is not that hate which causes him to smother her to death, but a

feeble attempt to evade the detection of her mother. The fear of being

caught with a white woman overwhelmed his common sense and dictated his

actions. When he attempted to murder Bessie, his motivation came from

intense fear of the consequences of "letting" her live. Bigger realized

that he could not take Bessie with him or leave her behind and concluded

that killing her...