The word alienation means “the state or experience of being isolated from a group or an activity to which one should belong or in which one should be involved.” As we started to read the novel the “native son,” by Richard Wright, you see the main character Bigger Thomas became a victim of abrupt alienation. More significant shares a bedroom with his family and yet he still feels isolated at the same time. He never actually gets the chance to show his real emotions with his family and get to wear his heart on his sleeve around them because they lean on him so much, but at the same time, they offer him no type of support system. Bigger had this incident flung at him so suddenly that he never had time to see or ever prepare and realize the implications of such acts. These set of circumstances leads more significant to start the alienation from his peers. Bigger could no longer be a functional member of society after he had committed the crime. This type of isolation also ends up leaving Bigger with an objective view of the community. Because he has now seen first hand the kind of society he lived in through both perspectives, which are the perspective of an outcast and that of a member, he is capable of dissecting the complexities of its nature.
Bigger has experienced some societal outlaw. After being discovered, or at least being a suspect, Bigger became a lower-class community member. This is a fascinating topic to explore because this is not the first experience Bigger had with the class struggle. Being an African-American, Bigger has had several first-hand experiences in this area. Being treated as a second-class citizen or even just looked down upon is nothing new to him at all. The big difference becomes apparent when one recognizes that Bigger has been alienated from the beginning, starting from his own home with his family especially being within the class system. He has moved to what you would call “lower class.” Bigger is no longer able to converse with his peers, members of his class. This is very evident when Bigger is hiding and overhears a conversation between two people in the next room over. “Jack, yuh meant’ stan’ there ‘n’ say yuh’d give that’ nigger up t’ the white folks? Damn right Ah would!” (Wright, 203) In this quote, you see that Bigger has become unable to relate to the common people. He has committed an act that emotionally that ends up setting him apart from the rest of the culture. Bigger after his actions becomes no longer capable of reacting in a similar way to how others would react. This is shown when Bigger’s develops the thoughts about killing Bessie are brought to the light. “Never had he had the chance to live out the consequences of his actions; never had his will been so free as in this night and day of fear and murder and flight.” (197, Wright) “Normal humans” would not react in the fashion, with this rationale. More significant is the human who has seen substantial life-changing events occur. Those types of very same event’s server to alienate him emotionally, and societally.
Because of Bigger’s alienation, he also gets the opportunity to see to the world in changing the light. He sees the world for what it is now instead of seeing it in a dark place. He is finally capable of achieving this because Bigger now has nothing to lose. I will preface by saying that bigger’s opinions are not that of my own. In Bigger’s sudden realization, he comes to believe he was acting non-human. He believes that African Americans are I in an entirely different class from the White people. He eventually takes his uncertainty about his place in this world to his own grave, but Bigger also starts to begin to question his place quite early into the world of crime. Throughout the novel, there were hints. He begins to agree with the reports that perhaps “He is not human! there is no place for him.” (311, Wright) This quote mostly touched on his final moments in the novel, Bigger finally realizes that not all white’s are the same either. Bigger comes to see Jan as an exceptional person. “The reality of Jan’s humanity came as a stab of remorse.” (277, Wright)
The title of Richard Wright’s work, Native Son, conveys the central message of the book. Bigger Thomas is the native son of America; he is what we would call the product of the society in America. The pressure of the society shaped him into the man he came to be. Bigger Thomas alienation serves as a platform to communicate to the reader so they can connect to more of the significant issues displayed throughout the text. Which are Racism and other types of discrimination which cannot stand in what we consider a free country for all? Racism too is a tool used to produce toxic and detrimental to our culture and morals. Which can only lead to hatred, jealousy, and violence? Without Bigger Thomas’ experience, this point would be less effective and with less overall impactful to the reader. Bigger ‘s different experiences are, in full effect, a case study of the popular belief of the times. Bigger ‘s expulsion shows how one man can be driven to commit atrocities for no reason other than cultural influences.
Bigger endured a troublesome time in his life. He made some abysmal choices, but many of them were at the least kind of reasonable. Bigger became imprisoned for the reader’s so we could learn the different lessons he was going through with him. Richard Wright did an outstanding job of communicating his ideology to the reader through the different trials of what we call morality. Bigger’s story will continue to influence people in today’s society, and will for the indefinite future.
Wright, Richard. Native Son. New York, Harper ; Bros., 1940.