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The Transformation of Bigger Thomas
The two books, which are parts of Richard Wrights novel Native Son, mark the transformation between Biggers flight and fate. Accordingly, Book Two: Flight is more foreshadowing than Book One: Fear, where a feeling of suspense is sustained all through the story. This creates anxiety for the reader who keeps waiting to see Bigger becoming more and more entangled in the web of fate. Nevertheless, the gallows warning from Ma recurs as Bigger exhibits a sense of pride that precedes his great fall. His headlong rush to fate is not dampened even after Bessie warns him of the slim chances to escape the white police officers or the mob. His brutal response to this forestalling leads to an ironic seal of his fate as he speaks to himself about his entry to the new world. Certainly, Bigger goes through the process of transformation from a victim of fear in Book One to a villain in Book Two as described by flight, which is a characterization of his own way of seeking human naturalism (Butler 45).
At the end of Book One, the writer views Bigger as a victim associating himself with the communist people who are alleged to have killed Mary. At this juncture, he is held up by the detective for questioning in regards to his participation in Marys disappearance. However, guilt still burns within his heart, and after the detective fails to link him with any evidence, he finds an opportunity to rush to the basement to get rid of any traces of Marys body in the furnace. This is where the press follows him in search for his evidence and the facts about Marys disappearance are brought out.
From this point, Biggers first transformation begins. He plans to run away from Chicago with his girlfriend Bessie but he fails because he had not collected enough money for the ransom. The transformation in this subsection involves Bigger moving from a series of Fear, as characterized by all blacks living in Chicago, to Flight after committing his first crime. Flight combined with fear increases his level of villainy and he commits another crime by raping Bessie and killing her for fear of disclosing his whereabouts to the police. The evidence of Wrights naturalism can be seen in the way how he presents his characterization. Even though there are extensive psychological details about the main character, Bigger, each individual in the book simply represents the broad types of the American society.
Bigger is a villain, which emanates from his lurid act of killing Mary Dalton and burning her body in the furnace. He casts aspersions on Jan for the kidnap of Mary Dalton just because he is a Communist. Due to this untrue information, the police places Jan under arrest for questioning after a ransom letter is found outside the Daltons home. Bigger escapes the journalist who came looking for him to make news, and goes to the basement to check whether Marys body burned completely in the furnace. This act of concealing evidence appears to be short lived as the press follows him up and finds him engulfed in smoke. They later come to realize he was the killer, specifically after he escapes and Marys unburned bones are discovered in the furnace (Wright 54).
His heinous acts continue when his girlfriend discovers that he actually killed Mary. She tries to weep but he slaps her and forces her to make no fuss; he rouses Bessie and drags her to the freezing cold warehouse where he rapes and kills the girl to death. His ruthless acts create suffering to other black people in the locality since they are subjected to massive search and harassment by the authorities. In Book One, he is just a young and naive petty thief who leaves visible marks on his subjects. His crimes have something intelligent that even the authorities are not convinced that he has worked alone as a black person.
The major reasons for Biggers transformation are that he had to struggle to come to terms with his actions and new image he has made of himself. His identity crisis is more of a struggle that separates his impressions from the racist projections around the society. Even after accepting his responsibility for the crimes, he faces complex tasks of asserting his worth. One essential point to note is that the treatment of the theme of identity and transformation bears a close resemblance to the philosophies expounded in various existential works (Rampersad 38). Biggers character can be compared to exaggerated hubris, which is a conflict that can be found in human naturalism. His exaggerated pride and self-confidence while defending the racial discrimination of his people result in two horrible crimes.
Towards the end of the second book, Bigger Thomas realizes how bad he wanted his life to be and also understands that his fear came from his consciousness. Moreover, he becomes aware that the emancipation of the black people only depends on themselves. Owing to this comprehension, the fear is gone and he welcomes his new existence by reviving his human nature to make a meaningful life ahead. He regrets his actions and feels deeply humiliated by his crimes (Guttman 27).
The notable feature of the novel is the offspring of racial discrimination in the society. Racial naturalism is indicative of the old biological conception associated with race. It depicts race as a bearer of behavioral essence underlying the genetic properties. Despite having a philosophical and scientific consensus on racial naturalism, philosophers disagree on the ontological status of the conception of race. It proves that Biggers behavior and attitude to people resemble stereotypes set by the American society. However, the irony in racial discrimination and inequality enforce his desire to seek human naturalism.