Bigger Thomas as a Tragic Hero
When analysing Bigger Thomas. Richard Wright’s supporter in the fresh Native Son. one must take into consideration the development of his word picture. Bing a hapless twenty-year-old Black adult male in the south side of Chicago populating with his household in a cramped one- sleeping room flat in the 1930’s. the odds of him thriving in life were non in his favour. Filled with subjugation. force. and calamity. Bigger Thomas’ life was doomed from the minute he was born. Through the novel. Bigger divulges his ain dreams to supply for his household and to be anything but a “nobody. ” Although Bigger struggled to contend through obstructions to prosecute his dreams for the hereafter. his pursuit for a better life came to an disconnected arrest after the tragic inadvertent slaying of his employer’s white girl. Bigger Thomas fits the definition of a tragic hero. sing he is the supporter of Native Son that experiences calamity throughout the novel. Along with calamity. Bigger besides undergoes alteration as the novel progresses. By the terminal Bigger’s life narrative. he is able to alter into a adult male that is no thirster consumed through the fright in his bosom. Due to his features. Bigger Thomas can be compared to Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. Both characters are tragic heroes that are related by their battles through calamity and alterations they undergo throughout their lives. By comparing the two characters. one can solidify the importance of both characters because of their calamities they experience.
In the beginning of Native Son’s book one: Fear. one is able to recognize that Bigger Thomas’s destiny looms in the custodies of his environment. He did non take to populate a life of poorness in the “Black Belt” of south side Chicago. This life was forced upon him. On page 20 of the novel. boding occurs as Bigger chats with his friend Gus about his hereafter. He says. “Every clip I get to believing about me being black and they being white. me being here and they being at that place. I feel like something awful’s traveling to go on to me” ( Wright 20 ) . He displays a defeatist attitude that he farther explains as he talks to Gus. He explains his logical thinking as he inquiries. “Why they make us unrecorded in one corner of the metropolis? Why don’t they let us wing planes and run ships? ” ( Wright 20 ) . As a consequence of this conversation. the reader is able to place that Bigger goes through his life feeling defeated. He has minimum hope for his hereafter as he lives in fright that something atrocious will go on to him due to the colour of his tegument and where he lives. Although one may reason that Bigger is a negative individual who uses the colour of his tegument to warrant his immoralities. this is non the instance sing Bigger invariably is oppressed by his environment and deficiencies options in his life. The white people that surround Bigger give him no hope to thrive therefore making a tragic being from the start. It is non until Bigger gets a occupation offer from a rich white altruist. Mr. Dalton that his life may be able to turn around for the better. Unfortunately for Bigger. this chance does merely the antonym.
While accepting a occupation as a chauffer for the Dalton household. Bigger becomes optimistic about his current state of affairs. Alternatively of invariably allowing his female parent and siblings down. he is now able to supply for them through this occupation by allowing them $ 20 from his salary each hebdomad. Although the occupation acquired small accomplishment. Bigger was satisfied that through this occupation. he could be less of a “nobody. ” While reflecting on this new chapter in his life. Bigger expressed. “This would be an easy life. Everything was all right. except that girl” ( Wright 59 ) . The miss that worried Bigger was Mary Dalton. Mr. Dalton’s free spirited girl that invariably challenged Bigger’s forbearance and authorization. Their first brush left Bigger skeptical of Mary Dalton’s motivations. By their 2nd brush. Bigger was blatantly fearful that Mary would do him to lose his occupation. During their 2nd brush. Bigger is ordered to chauffer Miss Dalton to the University for her every night category. Unfortunately to Bigger’s surprise. Miss Dalton has another set of programs. She tells Bigger. “I think I can swear you” ( Wright 64 ) in order to dally with his emotions and disobey his boss’ orders as Bigger. Mary. and Mary’s communist fellow Jan Erlone take the auto out for a dark in the cringle. After a bestiring eventide on the town filled with liquor and conversations about communism that left Bigger offended and ashamed to be black. it became Bigger’s responsibility to do certain that Mary was placed safely in her bed after being excessively intoxicated to stand on her ain. Because Bigger strives to obey his foreman. he feels inclined to personally put Mary in her ain room in order to avoid problem. This shows that Bigger Thomas took Mary to her sleeping room with no purpose of doing any jobs in his new workplace reminding the reader that Bigger is non an evil homo being. merely a merchandise of his environment. After being in Mary’s sleeping room. Bigger decided to outstay his welcome due to his funny rousing with white adult females. To Bigger’s surprise. “a hysterical panic seized him” ( Wright 85 ) as Mrs. Dalton makes an visual aspect in Mary’s sleeping room to look into on her girl. Bigger automatically assumed that if he was caught in Mary Dalton’s sleeping room at an uneven hr of the dark he would be instantly fired and accused of ravishing a white adult female that could destroy his already tragic life everlastingly. Due to her sightlessness. Bigger was non seen instantly. but he realized if Mary kept muttering. Mrs. Dalton would do her manner to the bed and finally experience Bigger puting following to her. Out of pure fright. Bigger reacts irrationally as he suffocates Mary Dalton with a pillow in order to maintain her quiet. Fear is what provoked the irrational response that killed Mary Dalton and turned Bigger Thomas’ life into a series of tragic events. In Malcolm Cowley’s scholarly article. Richard Wright: The Case of Bigger Thomas. he reminds the reader that despite his monstrous actions towards Mary Dalton. he is non the 1 to be blamed. Cowley makes the point that Bigger. “has been trained from the beginning to be a bad citizen. He had been taught American ideals of life…but had been denied the agencies of accomplishing them” ( Cowley 113 ) . Cowley’s observation justifies that Bigger reacted as a merchandise of his environment that invariably taught him to be a bad citizen because he had no manner to accomplish the sort of life he would trust for. This provokes even more calamity in Bigger’s life. Through the inadvertent slaying of Mary Dalton. a tragic hero arose in the signifier of Bigger Thomas. This tragic hero was born out of pure fright for the white adult male. but as the novel progressed. the fright of subjugation easy left the tragic hero as he vows to no longer live in fright.
After Bigger Thomas’ inadvertent slaying of Mary Dalton. Bigger’s life turns into a wild goose pursuit where he is forced to conceal out until being caught by Chicago governments. While expecting his test. certain to confront decease. Bigger meets the adult male that will support his instance. The suspect Max. a white Communist decides to take on Bigger Thomas’ instance in order to demo white people the oppressive life styles black people were forced to last on every twenty-four hours. At first Bigger was disbelieving about a white adult male volunteering to support a black adult male accused of slaying and colza. He questioned. “Why would Max hazard that white tide of hatred to assist him” ( Wright 420 ) . He is shocked that a white adult male would support a black adult male out of the goodness of his bosom. Max asks Bigger inquiries that remind Bigger that he is a human being among everyone else despite his race. At this point it does non count to Bigger if Max saves his life. because Max has made him maturate mentally and undergo alteration. After telling a conversation where Max asked Bigger inquiries about what he wanted to make with his hereafter. he expresses to Max. “ ( you ) asked me inquiries nobody of all time asked me before. You knew that I was a liquidator two times over. but you treated me like a human” ( Wright 424 ) . After Max assures Bigger that he is a human. Bigger transforms his manner of looking at life. Alternatively of experiencing invariably oppressed. Bigger believes that he is a human that deserves a future much like everyone else despite the colour of his tegument. Alternatively of accepting his decease sentence. Bigger realizes that he has the impulse to populate his life as a human that possesses the ability to hold a hereafter. As Max reassures him. “you’re human. Bigger” ( Wright 424 ) Bigger comes to a alteration in his bosom. He realizes that the fright he has sustained from the white people that invariably suppress him comes from his ain ideas. He now believes in himself as an person that no longer lives in fright. Because of this. Bigger is able to accept his decease sentence and alter his mentality on life. Unfortunately. this alteration came excessively late in his being to affair. Although Bigger loses the conflict with life. he finally wins the conflict with the colour of his tegument after accepting that he is merely every bit human as Max. his suspect.
In James Baldwin’s article. “Many Thousand Gone- Twentieth Century Interpretations of Native Son. ” Baldwin explains his reading of Bigger Thomas’ conflict within Native boy. He explains. “In this instance the force of circumstance is non poverty simply. but color a circumstance which can non be overcome. against which the supporter conflicts for his life and loses” ( Baldwin 53 ) . This statement is non accurate sing a conflict is non lost. Even though Bigger Thomas is sentenced to decease. he is able to stop his life with peace of head knowing that he can decease as a homo without fright. The alteration Bigger Thomas has undergone shows that Bigger has overcome his subjugation therefore winning his conflict. After reading Native Son. the supporter Bigger Thomas resembled another tragic hero from the drama. Death of a Salesman. By comparing Willy Loman. the supporter of Death of a Salesman to Bigger Thomas. one can state how similar their characters are although they have been created in different clip periods and environments. Both Bigger and Willy are lost psyches seeking to give significance to their ultimately meaningless lives. As a consequence of their ego made force per unit area to hold a intent in life. they both are non good liked by their friends. After unwraping a program to rob a shop owned by a white individual. Bigger gives his friends Gus. G. H. . and Jack rigorous instructions to run into together at a specific clip. When Guam shows up to their meeting topographic point tardily. Bigger is outraged. He cusses at his friends and resorts to physical injury due to his choler. While his friends watch Bigger self-destruct into a adult male of fury. G. H. lets bigger cognize that. “You done spoilt things now” ( Wright 40 ) . Not merely had Bigger spoiled the program to rob the shop. but Bigger had besides spoiled his friendly relationships as all three work forces leave him to wallow in his fury entirely. A similar state of affairs occurs in Death of a Salesman as Willy Loman receives a friendly visit with his friend Charley. Since both work forces were unable to kip. they decided that a speedy game of cards would be a sufficient mercantile establishment for their energy. While playing cards. Willy develops a hostile attitude towards Charley and invariably abuses him on his pick of eating wonts and card playing abilities. After Charley accuses Willy of rip offing during their game. Willy evolves into a rage-infested autocrat and orders his friend to go forth. Charley rejoinders. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself” ( Miller 1252 ) and storms out the door. This case compares to Bigger Thomas’ tumult with his friends sing both effusions led to their friends go forthing them to wallow in their ain choler.
In add-on to non being good liked. both Willy Loman and Bigger Thomas live in changeless fright throughout their narratives. As a mediocre salesman. Willy Loman spends his yearss fearing that he is non successful plenty to supply for his household. Because of this looming fright to be successful. Willy frequently lies to his household about his occupation in gross revenues to do himself look far superior to who he truly is. For illustration. while Willy explains to his married woman. Linda about the money he has made on one of his gross revenues trips. he exaggerates the sum of money he made. This prevarication would hold been unnoticed if Linda did non inquire Willy to pay for the reparations of their leaky roof. When Linda asks him to pay. Willy exclaims. “A hundred and twenty dollars! My God. if concern don’t pick up I don’t cognize what I’m gon na do” ( Miller 1247 ) . The shame Willy feels because he is unable to pay for the roof reparations straight correlates to the changeless fright Willy has to go successful for his household. Bigger Thomas is besides a character that invariably lives in fright. This fright is shown when Bigger is explicating to his attorney Max about how Whites have all the power and Bigger frights that because of this. his life will non amount to anything. He tells Max. “Well they own everything. They choke you off the face of the Earth. they like god…” ( Wright 353 ) . Since Bigger believes that white people control everything he fears that nil can be done to do his life meaningful. Both Bigger Thomas and Willy Loman possess similar qualities that show are comparable through their deficiency of ability to do friends throughout their fright ridden lives. Through Bigger Thomas’ life of subjugation. force. and calamity. one is able to state that he struggles with the hopes of going anything but a “nobody. ” Bing the supporter of a tragic novel. Bigger possesses the qualities of a tragic hero. Even though his life is cut short due to the tragic inadvertent slaying of Mary Dalton. his boss’ wild girl. Bigger is able to travel through a alteration that brings him peace of head as he awaits his sentence to decease. Bing a merchandise of his environment. Bigger invariably lived in fright of the white adult male. With the aid of his attorney Max. Bigger was able to undergo alteration and recognize that he excessively was a human that had no demand to populate in fright. Pulling from specific scenes from the text. Bigger Thomas can be compared to Willy Loman. the supporter in the drama. Death of a Salesman. Their characters were both inflicted with fright throughout their lives that finally ended in calamity for both characters.
Arthur Miller Death of a Salesman. Baym. Nina. gen. erectile dysfunction. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 8th erectile dysfunction. Vol. A. New York: Norton. 2013. Print.
James Baldwin- Many Thousand Gone- Twentieth Century Interpretations of Native Son – Ed. Houston A Baker- Englewood NJ Prentice Hall. 1972-48-63 Malcolm Cowley- Richard Wright The Case of Bigger Thomas- Twentieth Century Interpretations of Native Son- Ed Houston A Baker – Englewood Hills NJ Prentice Hall. 1972-112-115
Wright. Richard. Native Son. New York. London: Harper & A ; Brothers. 1940.