Route 7 Review - Page 166

Albert Camus: I must at least believe in my protest. . . Man is the only creature who refuses to be what he is. The problem is to know whether this refusal can only lead to the destruction of himself and of others, whether all rebellion must end in the justification of universal murder, or whether, on the contrary, without laying claim to an innocence that is impossible, it can discover the principle of reasonable culpability. . .Man’s rebellion against his condition (is) the movement that enlists the individual in the defense of a dignity common to all men (10, 11, 18). Bigger’s revolt must result in violent destruction to show the strength of his belief in it. Though an anti-Christian, his protest is just like that of Jesus Christ. Raman K. Singh articulates, “Bigger Thomas is. . . a Christ-figure. . . mainly because of the suffering he undergoes. . . Thus, Bigger’s special brand of crucifixion has washed away the shame of black and oppressed people” (101). Just like people of all ethnicities on all socioeconomic levels, even to this day, Bigger suffered the sins of all native sons and daughters that quietly stayed in their place and accepted their respective lowly lots in life. We should refuse to be one of these tragic heroes by accepting both our individual and communal responsibilities to “Be Bigger”! Wright’s writing of this novel is his own personal form of revolt, or “Being Bigger” during the process of Bigger’s creation. 3 “Being Bigger” is not as simple, idealistic and utopian as it sounds in this essay. It is truly a call to empower the self with purgation of any inklings of ignorance, fear and hatred towards anyone—least of all ourselves. We should allow the ignorance, fear and hatred that must and will exist in our realistic world to be cast down upon us. We should proactively overcome these external obstacles and not negatively react to them in kind. Bigger does this by using his newfound love to conquer the Dalton’s hate. Bigger’s previous fear, ignorance and hatred of himself and humanity are all gone. The true heroism of Bigger is that he transfers his fear, guilt, ignorance and hatred to the Dalton family—the typical representative of “society” in the text. Yoshinobu Hakutani explains that “On the strength of book 3 (of Native Son), Wright is able to shift the burden of Bigger’s guilt to society” (73).4 “Being Bigger” is living without guilt. It is learning from Bigger’s mistakes of bottling up his guilt and living free of it. Paul Newlin articulates, “Guilt is everywhere (in the text)—from Mrs. Thomas’ cruel questioning of why she brought Bigger into this world, Mrs. Dalton’s collective guilt as a symbolic representation of a blind, self-praising, affluent white society, and Bigger’s own irascible bullying of his street pals in an effort to assuage his fears” (144). Having purged himself of all previous negative life forces, we should not sympathize with Bigger at all but with The Daltons. Bigger is willing to face his consequences for this self discovery. The Dalton’s are the poor little rich people. Unlike the hero, they never experience the epiphany and elation of seeing the limitless world open to them. They never feel true happiness nor act out any passionate desires. Their only family member that tries to, Mary, loses her life as a result of it. This brings all of the Dalton’s fears, threats, hatreds and ignorance of African-Americans to a horrific and tragic reality. “’Those poor old parents are going to be in that court room to see that this boy burns! This boy killed the only thing they had’” (Native Son 338). The Daltons are not only still blind, but also suffering the pain of hatred and revenge against Bigger. The hero’s purposeful killing of Mary is not revenge against them, but taking his rightful place within the society that they represent for him. The Daltons are merely the face of the society that created Bigger out of self-hatred. James Baldwin claims, “the courtroom, judge, jury witnesses and spectators, recognize immediately that Bigger is their creation” (43). The Daltons are the real losers because they will continue to be blind zombies (unable to see and feel humanity within themselves and others) and will never learn, like the hero does, to “Be Bigger” from this experience. “Being Bigger” recognizes that racism and bigotry are as much of a dehumanizing degradation for the oppressor as it is for the victim. James Baldwin states, “Our dehumanization of the Negro then is indivisible from our dehumanization of ourselves: the loss of our own identity is the price we pay for our annulment of his” (25). They will only continue to hate all humankind—through their vengeance