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The protagonist and main character of Native Son is Bigger Thomas He is the focus of the novel and the embodiment of its main idea--the effect of racism on the mental state of its black victims Richard Wrights exploration of Biggers psychological corruption gives us a perspective on the effect that racism had on the black population in 1930s America Some critics of Native Son have questioned the effectiveness of Bigger as a character For instance the famous black writer James Baldwin has considered Bigger as too narrow to represent the full scope of black experience in America but I believe he is a powerful and disturbing symbol of black rage As a 20-year-old black man cramped in a Chicago South Side apartment with his family Bigger has lived a life defined by the fear and anger he feels toward whites Bigger is limited by the eighth-grade departure from school and by the racist real estate practices that forced him to live in poverty Furthermore he is subjected to messages from a popular culture that portrays whites as civilized and sophisticated and blacks as barbaric and subservient Racism has severely reduced Biggers opportunities in life and even his conception of himself He is ashamed of his familys poverty and afraid of the whites who control his life--feelings he works hard to keep hidden even from himself When these feelings overwhelm him he reacts with violence These were the rhythms of his life indifference and violence periods of abstract brooding and periods of intense desire moments of silence and moments of anger--like water ebbing and flowing from the tug of some far-away invisible force 31 Bigger robs people with his friends--though only other blacks as the gang is too frightened to rob a white man--but his own violence is often directed at these friends as well Bigger sees white people as an overpowering and hostile force that is set against him in life Just as whites
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