Route 7 Review - Page 163

list him as “native informant” about “his people” and his “undiscovered” neighborhood. Mary complains, ‘I’ve been to England, France, Mexico, but I don’t know how people live ten blocks from me. . . They must live like we live. . .They live in our country. . . In the same city with us’ (Native Son, 69-70). She curiously doesn’t ask Bigger about his lifestyle, perhaps because as “native informant” his account is already tainted by the knowledge she presumes him to have about her world. . . There is an insistent possession in the phrase “our country,” belying her ironic magnanimity, as if the blacks were extended and not particularly gracious houseguests”. . . (614). Note that she does not even ask Bigger’s permission or how he feels about doing this before demanding that he take them with him to eat in his neighborhood. Mary’s and Jan’s wanting to see how Bigger lives is not out of true curiosity nor concern for him by connecting with his part of humanity. Both of them are imperialistically forcing their beliefs onto Bigger. They only ask Bigger questions as implications of their own ideas. When first meeting Bigger, Mary asks him, “’Bigger, do you belong to a union. . . But you wouldn’t mind belonging to a union, would you. . . All right, Mr. Capitalist! (referring to her father, Mr. Dalton). . . Isn’t he a capitalist, Bigger?’ Bigger looked at the floor and did not answer. He did not know what a capitalist was” (Native Son 58-9). It does not matter that they do this out of idealist naiveté. In this way, Mary’s extreme good is no better than Bigger’s extreme evil. Bigger’s murder of Mary is the turning point for the hero. His murder of Mary is not an accident at all. This is where the hero begins to live on his own terms and establish his own identity, purpose and goals. By trying to put words in his mouth, Mary shows that she is inconsiderate of any possible stances or attitudes that he may have. She thinks she knows him and does not. Furthermore, she never tries to come to truly know him. Like all the other characters in the text, she does not see Bigger for who he is—a man. Native Son follows one of the common themes of African-American literature--damned if you do, damned if you don’t. His heroism is like that of Youssarian in Joseph Heller’s Catch 22. In this type, one avoids the ready made forms of damnation by society and the system while creating and following his or her own. “His mother, with her tired resignation to Jim Crow laws, longing for middle-class domesticity, and pleas for Christian mercy, represents the suffering black subject begging for recognition of black humanity”