Route 7 Review - Page 162

methods in which to subvert this social and systematic order. Paul Siegel suggests that, “Wright, of course, is not advocating murder. . . But hatred of the oppressor is a natural, human emotion; it is only unhealthy when it is kept stifled. Used as the motor power of an idea driving toward a goal, it can transform both the individual and society” (521). We can and should positively express this hatred by using it to destroy the oppressor’s obstacles for us. Nevertheless, “Being Bigger” is not taking revenge—it is proactive and not reactive. Edward Margolies states that, “Although Bigger dreams the American dreams, he knows he can never realize them because he is a Negro. If the civilization rejects him out of hand, he will reject traditional and acceptable means and values for achieving the rewards that civilization has to offer. . . It is not that Bigger Thomas is so different from us; it is that he is so much like us” (120). Bigger creates his own means with which he can live comfortably. In Know Thyself, Naim Akbar articulates, “Your personal self is the vehicle within which you travel and all “cars” will go. The task we each face is to find our “car.” Miseducation has us looking for someone else’s car and a real education helps us to find our own” (28). Despite the fact that murder is the extreme, shocking and monstrous example and vehicle that Wright gives us, as a criminal, unfortunately, it is the only real talent (or vehicle) that he owns for obtaining his goal. He rebels against any and all forces that stand in his way—it is not just white society, represented by the Da lton family, and its oppressors that provide obstacles to his “Being Bigger.” Keneth Kinnamon argues that Bigger rebels against religion, family, companions and black life in general and the white society that oppresses him (138). Most importantly, he rebels against the greatest obstacle ever formed against any individual—himself. We are our greatest barrier to “Being Bigger.” In Breaking the Chains of Psychological Slavery, Naim Akbar says, “Our limitations rest only in our ignorance. We are ignorant of who we are and what we can do. We have the need to gain consciousness and only in it is our true human capacity open to us” (29). Although the specifics of his rebellion look different and he uses a different vehicle (hopefully) than we do or will—Bigger’s oppres- sion is ours. James Robert Saunders says, “In talking about Thomas in a college class composed almost equally of whites and blacks, I found it interesting that nearly everyone sympathized with what he was going through. Students between the ages of eighteen and sixty-five (including an elderly Jewish woman who had to sell her downtown business establishment because of rising crime) declared that they understood what drove him to the depths of depression where the novel ends. They feared him, and yet they understood him. As strange as it might sound to some, Bigger Thomas and his plight do have universal appeal” (35). W. Lawrence Hogue adds, “In the defense speech, Max links Bigger’s life and fate to that of society. Bigger becomes a symbol not only for twelve million blacks, but also for workers and labor unions, the economically oppressed peoples of the world” (28). We are all Bigger on some level or other and it is not just economic oppression. Within this state of being, we must achieve our own goals according to our own standards and live in our own worlds. Nevertheless, we must also achieve and succeed in the environment of the dominant social power structure. Bigger is a criminal--plain and simple. Nevertheless, his morality does not matter at all in his self development and establishment of identity. “Bigger’s existential freedom is affirmed in the absence of a horizon of reliable moral ideals” (Hogue 35). Just like the protagonist’s name derives from “Big Nigger,” it is a reflection of his emerging greatness—not moral good. “I’ve even heard Negroes say that maybe Hitler and Mussolini are all right; that maybe Stalin is all right. They did not say this out of any intellectual comprehension of the forces at work in the world, but because they felt that these men “did things”. . .” (How Bigger Was Born 514). Bigger started doing “his” thing. We should do ours. Therefore, psychology is more important than sociology in “Being Bigger.” This is a weapon that we should use to make external individuals and social forces respond and react to us with our own positive and proactive agenda—not vice versa. Just like Bigger, Mary experiences this same limitation. She is the same social product of her environment that he is. As a native daughter, she is just as afraid, blind and lost as he is. Anthony Reed suggests that “Mary and her Communist boyfriend Jan en-