Native Son

Native Son

Can you explain how Bigger Thomas transforms throughout the novel.

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When Bigger kills Bessie, he has a false hope that this action replaces Mary's accidental murder because it is intentional; and he hopes that the "intentional" aspect of the act will bring him back into control of his mind. Instead, this second murder only fuels the madness that has already taken over. Wright depicts this madness as something we might contrast to Bigger's "anger" or "hubris." There is a deliberate emphasis on Bigger's paranoia as something separate to his crimes against society. Furthermore, Bigger's feelings of being "trapped" seem to carry a psychological significance that matches the more literal "trapped" feeling of living in a slum. Finally, Bigger's crimes have a demented logic of symbolism. In Doc's poolroom, both the gash in the table and the threats directed towards Gus seem to have a purely expressive role‹Bigger doesn't actually stab anyone, he simply demonstrates, "traces," what he would do to a person. On the other hand, Bessie's murder was both a demonstration of Bigger's power and an actual murder. Bigger pretended to gut Gus as a way of demonstrating that he was the truly "solid" character who wasn't afraid. The fact that Bigger smashed Bessie in the head seems to hint at the fact that Bigger is still trying to escape from (and if necessary, destroy) the mind. This is also substantiated by Bessie's role as one of several "escape" characters in the novel. In all, Wright seems to make a special argument that madness is a distinct, albeit compounded, effect of poverty and racism. While Bigger's madness is the product of several factors, it becomes a separate burden for Bigger to carry.