“Native son” is a famously known novel written by the American author, Richard Wright. It tells the story of 20-year-old Bigger Thomas, an African American youth living in utter poverty in a poor area on Chicago’s south side in a rundown apartment with his family during the 1940s. Fear is one of the most important themes shown in the novel. Ultimately, Bigger does not know how to control his fear intertwined with anger and savagness around the white communities hatred and discrimination towards blacks during this time this leads him to Bigger situations that get out of his own control. Bigger is fearful of white people in society and he lets his fear get him into inevitable situations. Bigger uses gus as a scapegoat because he was truly afraid of robbing the white man’s store, finally Bigger moves beyond his fear and emotions.
One of the main displays in Native Son as said before is greater fear of white people. An early example of this was when Bigger met Mr. Dalton at the Daltons place for the first time for his job interview, for he was very reluctant to find his work. In the text it states, “Inside his shirt he felt the cold metal of the gun resting against his naked skin… No! He would keep it. He would take it with him to the Daltons place. He felt that he would be safer if he took it. He was not planning to use it… there was in him and uneasiness and distrust that made him feel he ought to have it along…He was going among white people, so he would take his knife and his gun; it would make him feel like he was equal of them… “ (Wright, 44). Bigger is too afraid of even being near white people. He feels as though a sense of protection would be needed and that anything could happen to him especially being in a wealthy white neighborhood. He has lived with this fear for too long and doesn’t know how to keep his emotions stable. During this time no black person knew how to be feel safe around the white community. Therefore this shows how Bigger is fearful of whites in general. To continue, towards Mary’s death, is where Bigger had extreme fear when bringing Mary home from the black restaurant. To explain this it states, ‘“Mary!”’ He felt Mary trying to rise and quickly he pushed her head back into the pillow… Mrs. Dalton was moving slowly towards him… “Mary ? is that you??” “you’re dead drunk you stink with whiskey…” (Wright”,84-85). After coming back, Mary was very drunk and she couldn’t take herself to her room so Bigger carried her to her room upstairs. When they got there Mrs. Dalton came in and Bigger panicked so he covered Marys face to make it seem like she was sleeping and unable to give her a proper response. This basically shows how afraid Bigger is of having Mrs dalton find out what really happened when he didn’t take her to the University and to The Loop, let alone taking her up to her room. Back then blacks and whites touching could lead to a conclusion of rape or sexual assault and Bigger didn’t want to risk that. Ultimately showing the inevitable situation Bigger has brought upon himself.
As it is clearly shown, Bigger can put on a “tough guy” look. What is meant by this is when Bigger was with Gus and some other friends that were planning to rob Blum’s storefront. In the text it says, ‘“Get up! Get up and i’ll slice your toenails!’ Gus lay still… That’s all right Gus said in surrender. “Lemme up.” “ you trying to make a fool out of me, ain’t you” Naw”, Gus said… “That ought to teach you not to be late next time, see? We ain’t late we still have time….” Shut up! It is late!” Bigger insisted commandidly.” (Wright, 40). Basically, Bigger is putting the blame on Gus because he came late and he feels as though he’s not taking his own plan seriously so he got upset and started ganging up on Gus. To continue it then says, “That ought to teach you not to be late next time, see? We ain’t late we still have time….” Shut up! It is late!” Bigger insisted commandidly.” (Wright”,41). In the beginning it is shown that Bigger is fascinated with the entire plan and is more than ready but he doesn’t feel comfortable expressing his fears in front of the guys. Before even going to meet up with everyone else Bigger goes with Jack to watch a movie to get his mind off robbing Blumes storefront. Keep in mind that he’s white. Biggers fear of confronting this gives him a lot of pressure so instead he attacks Gus and tries to hide his fear by putting on this mask that says otherwise. Bigger is just afraid of white people in general. This can also mean that Bigger in fears Gus in a way because he tries to overpower him with his own plan to begin with.
In the novel towards Marys tragic death, Bigger had different sets of emotions. In the text he says, “He sat at the table watching the snow fall past the window and many things became plain. No he did not have to hide behind a wall or a curtainnow; he had a safer way of being safe. What he had done proved tha Jan was blind, Mary had been blind Mr.Dakton was blind. And Mrs Dalton was blind…. Bigger smiled slightly… (Wright”,102). Bigger started to think in a smarter way because he doesn’t want to feel guilty about his unthinkable actions. He has always felt guilty but when he killed Mary, he felt a sense of fear and he disliked that feeling. Bigger believes that Mary’s death was accidental because she was drunk and basically unaware of herself. He’s trying to take the blame off himself and be like “she asked for it” this that and the third but this was all his fault. He was trying to think of ways to blame her for the accidents. “Things would be alright now; the exhaust fan would suck the air out of the basement and there would be no scent… He shut the trunk and put it in the corner. In the morning he would take it to the station. He looked around to see if he had anything that would betray him; he saw nothing. He went out the back door…”(Wright”,91-92). This is basically when Bigger kills mary and he plans out every little detail in his head so that nothing falls on him and feels like everything is fine. Bigger feels a small glimpse of power for the first time in his life. He feels so powerful because he was actually able to kill a white girl, who was wealthy and no one suspected a thing. In the beginning, he was afraid of his friends and felt that whites suppressed his actions as a black person but things started to change slowly.