Emotion in Native Son

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Throughout Native Son, Bigger Thomas experiences many different emotions in response to the various things happening in his life. The most dominant emotions that Bigger suffers from are fear, shame, and hate. During most of the novel, Bigger is haunted by his own emotions. He rarely feels any emotion of joy, happiness, or contentment. Bigger constantly lives his life in fear of the white race and feels shame for being black. This fear stems from the dominion whites have over blacks. This dominion keeps Bigger and other blacks from being able to control their own lives, and this ultimately causes Bigger’s shame. Bigger and his family live in poverty, and the fact that he cannot change their living conditions contributes to most of his shame. The fear and shame leads Bigger to feel hate towards himself, his family and friends, and of course, the whites controlling him. In the beginning of Native Son, Bigger is trying to kill a large, menacing rat in his family’s crowded one bedroom apartment. He has to tussle with the rat before he finally ends up killing it. This fight symbolizes how Bigger and his family must live in fear while struggling to survive. Poverty burdens Bigger because he is the man of the family, a role he undoubtedly hates. “He hated his family because he knew that they were suffering and that he was powerless to help them. He knew that the moment he allowed himself to feel to its fullness how they lived, the same and misery of their lives, he would be swept out of himself with fear and despair.” (Wright 13) Through limitations from whites, Bigger lacks the ability to better his family’s life. The constant nagging he receives from his mother also causes Bigger to feel hatred towards them. Bigger’s mother also contributes to the shame Bigger feels. After Bigger is apprehended for Mary’s murder, Mrs. Thomas pleads at the feet of Mrs. Dalton that she will not let “’em” kill her boy (Wright 301) Bigger feels immediate shame because his powerless...
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