Route 7 Review - Page 164

gang that could have helped him identify role models and/or goals in which to aspire. “For the existential Bigger, salvation could come not from God, Marxism, black folk culture, black music, education, or the American Dream, only from himself ” (Hogue 32). We all need a mentor and/ or protector to help us positively rebel and “Be Bigger”—we should not try to do it all alone. In breaking from the gang, he cuts all ties to any big time criminal doing big time things for him to possibly admire and emulate. In doing this, Bigger sets himself back further towards the same old lows before he ever begins to move toward his new highs. He breaks ties with his community (society) before he starts to develop his individuality (identity). Although less important than psychology, sociology is an important aspect of “Being Bigger.” It is a measurable building block and frame of reference towards establishing our own standards. We cannot “Be Bigger” by cutting any and all ties between ourselves and our society. In the hero, there is too little balance between sociology and psychology--at first he depends on sociology too much and individuality too little. Once he makes his transformation--the social ties (as building blocks to establishing his own identity and purpose) are severed in his breakup with the gang. Thus, he embraces too little sociology. In Know Thyself, Naim Akbar contends: Miseducation results when people see themselves as only a consequence of these social and interper-sonal influences. One component of being misedu-cated is the consequence of seeing oneself as only an economic animal or the victim of a certain socio-economic environment or even as just the conse- quence of a set of habits and childhood experiences (25-26). Love of self is also important in “Being Bigger.” His assault of Gus is an existential show of his hatred of himself being projected onto his actions towards his friend. However, it is also his refusal to allow anyone to love him. Through this phony “manhood,” Bigger secretly deems himself unworthy of this love from Gus and the gang. He cannot stand anybody loving him more than he loves himself. The sad reality in the instance of Bigger’s assault of Gus is that, at this point in his personal development, Bigger is not a ‘true’ man. Unfortunately, he is using phony equality with Gus and the gang to mask his own inferiority. In Know Thyself, Naim Akbar says,”To imply that we are better than other human beings just because of certain qualities in our personal or tribal selves is unrealistic and ultimately destructive to ourselves and others” (27). Jack, Gus and G.H. all connect deeply with Bigger--perhaps deeper than they all know. Note how well Gus senses Bigger’s fear in the text. “I’ll help just like I always help. But I’ll be Godamn if I’m taking orders from you, Bigger! You just a scared coward! You calling me scared so nobody’ll see how scared you is!” (Native Son 29). “This truth stings Bigger and the psychological tension that had been growing nearly erupts in violence as Bigger lunges at Gus” (Elder 38). “As for love and marriage, Bigger denies that he loved even Bessie, saying ‘I don’t reckon I was ever in love with nobody’” (Kennedy 278).2 This hate, fear and anger destroys his kinship with his gang—the only people that initially empathize with him. Unlike most readings of Native Son, it is Bigger who is blinded by this hate, fear and anger as much or more than white people and society. What matters most is not whether everyone else sees Bigger--it is how Bigger sees himself within the world. Instead of seeing the world through the eyes of the narrator and the blind white power establishment, Bigger’s “new worldview” is one in which he realizes that his own standards of perception, morality and ethics are the only ones that matter. Before discovering this, he is just as blind as white people and society are to his own potential for greatness. “Bigger psychologically defines himself outside all of society’s stereotypes about black men” (Hogue 34-35). This trait, is a key step in “Being Bigger.” In Know Thyself, Naim Akbar proclaims that: One of the cautions to prevent ‘miseducation’ is to be familiar with the personal self and to know some of the qualities that are unique and peculiar to us as individuals but we must understand those qualities as only a part of a bigger (italics mine) self . . .We must learn to recognize, appreciate and be comfortable with who we are, regardless of the demands that come from others” (27-8). Bigger starts to do this once he develops his “new worldview.” He cannot be the narrator of the novel—but he controls his own destiny once