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Native Son

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The murder of Mary Dalton exposed a growing animosity that Bigger kept hidden throughout his childhood and adolescence. White oppression cornered Bigger into a life of constant distress and restraint that he knew would ultimately overcome him. He recognized that his lack of opportunity would somehow determine his own drastic fate. The pressure of surrendering to the white power tamed his actions to a certain extent, but his yearning for liberation transcended all authority when he killed Mary.

Bigger did not view his crime as an act of hate towards Mary, but rather as an act of nature. Author Richard Wright notes, "His crime seemed natural; he felt that all of his life had been leading to something like this." The unregretful assurance of Bigger's reaction to the murder gives the murder itself a sense of importance. His certainty suggests the killing was not only worth while to him, but it was meaningful; "A meaning which others did not see and which he had always tried to hide." says Wright.

Although the actual strangling of Mary was not intentional on Bigger's part, he chose to view it as if it were. "Not once did he need to tell himself that it had been an accident." writes the author. He understood that the consequences of his crime were inevitable whether he meant to kill her or not, so he used the circumstances as evidence of his "dramatic will to kill." "It was no longer a matter of dumb wonder as to what would happen to him and his black skin; he knew now." If he had thought of the murder as an accident, it would have diminished the meaning behind it. Mary's death entitled Bigger to some sense of closure and significance to his life, which he had been deprived of for so long.

In some ways, Bigger's crime isolated him even further from the society that he wanted to be a part of equally. Bigger's perception of the murder, however, granted him a new kind of freedom. A freedom that derived from years of hiding and holding back from white oppression. The meaning and potential he had stored within him had been released. Even in a jail cell, Bigger was now able to mark an event that let him feel superior to the color of his skin.



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