Native Son

Discuss the theme of alienation in the native son

How is bigger alienated? why? where?how?

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Bigger shares a bedroom with four people yet he feels isolated. He never shares his heart with any of his family. They lean on him, yet offer him no support. He has a gang of friends but they never talk about anything substantial. He thinks nothing of spilling the blood of his friend Gus who has just shared his own money by paying for the pool game. After Mary's murder, there is no one Bigger can confide in, and he erects a wall of isolation around himself and comes to believe that everyone, except himself, is blind. Spurning his girlfriend Bessie when she sees him with the white Mary and Jan, he uses her for sex yet fails to share intimate moments. She loves him but he wants to be rid of her. Alone, he runs from the police, avoiding even his own community. The isolation in his prison cell needs no illustration.

In short, Bigger represents the stereotypical young alienated African-American male in 1930s America, who as a result of white oppression, Wright maintains, feels helpless, vengeful and impotent. In the introductory essay, "How Bigger Was Born," the author writes that Bigger represents a composite figure of young African-American males who, with very few opportunities in life, become increasingly antisocial and violent, and ready to explode.

Wright ultimately blames the structure of American society for this sense of alienation and warns that there are millions of Biggers throughout the country. Changes that benefit African-American culture in the form of education and employment opportunities must be come about, or the consequences will be dire.