Self Realization in Native Son

Essay by ruwild2002High School, 12th gradeA-, December 2002

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Native Son

Today we live in a nation, which has abolished slavery, but the gap between whites and blacks that existed during the early stages of America's development has plainly carried into the present. In Native Son, author Richard Wright illustrates this racial gap, in addition to demonstrating how immoral white oppression of blacks is capable of producing vengeful individuals. Bigger Thomas is one of those individuals, who discovers his capacity to rebel through acts of murder against the white society, which has long oppressed his family, friends, and himself. By tracing Bigger's psyche from before the murder of Mary Dalton, into the third book of the novel, and into the subconscious depths of the final scene, the development of Bigger's self realization becomes evident.

An entire period of Bigger's life, up until the murder of Mary Dalton, portrays him under a form of slavery, where the white society governs his state of being.

Mr. Dalton gives Bigger a job, trying to be considerate, but his intentions just contribute to the way Bigger views the white society already. Mr. Dalton hires Bigger to be his families' chauffer and to clean out their furnace, which are very degrading jobs for a black person wanting to be treated equal. While he works for the Daltons, "his courage to live depended upon how successfully his fear was hidden from his consciousness" (44), and hate also builds on top of this fear. Bigger murders Mary Dalton accidentally by suffocating her, but later justifies his behavior by saying that she is the reason for his fears and revulsion. The unintentional murder of Mary begins to turn purposeful, because to Bigger, Mary symbolizes white oppression. In addition, he committed the act, because "it had made him feel free for the first time in his life"...