Native Son Summary

Native Son Summary
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Native Son, by Richard Wright, is a horrific story revolving around a young black man who kills a young white woman accidentally. He then pays the ultimate price. Bigger Thomas is the main character. He is a young black man who provides manual labor for a wealthy white family living in Chicago. The story touches on various themes, such as family and race. This article is a brief synopsis of the novel.

Plot Overview: Summary of the Entire Story

Bigger Thomas is a poor, twenty-year-old black man who is uneducated in 1930’s Chicago and sees very little to no hope in his future. One morning, he wakes up in his family’s crowded apartment on the southern end of the city. He suddenly sees a huge rat run across the room and decides to corner and kill it with a skillet. Having grown up under a harsh environment of racial discrimination in 1930’s America, he is disturbed by a powerful conviction that he cannot control the course of his life and there is nothing to aspire to apart from partaking in low-wage, menial labor. His mother pressures him to take a job with a certain rich white man by the name Mr. Dalton.  However, bigger considers conspiring with some friends to rob the white man’s store. However, fear and anger are the hallmarks of his existence and hides behind a facade of thoughtfulness or risk. Eventually, he decides to take a chauffeur job for the Daltons. This is an upper-class white family in Chicago.

His first assignment was to escort their daughter, Mary to her college one evening. However, things go haywire when Mary tells him to head somewhere else. Bigger agrees and takes her to meet with her boyfriend named Jan Erlone, who is also a communist. The three drive around for a while, but in between the talking and driving about social issues, Mary becomes intoxicated.

Bigger attempts to carry Mary to her room. It was the right thing to do. Nevertheless, when Mary’s blind mother comes to check her daughter in bed, bigger gets terrified. It would sound more terrible for him to get caught in her room alone with her given his racial background. He, therefore, shoves a pillow over her face to keep her silent in case she tried to mumble anything. It is at this moment that Bigger kills Mary unintentionally.

To cover up his deeds, Bugger chops up Mary’s body and burns it within the Family’s furnace. After that, he goes home, takes a shower, and finds some sleep. Ironically, Mary’s killing gives Bigger a sense of achievement. He felt more rejuvenated than he could have ever imagined. This feeling then motivates him to cash in on the situation and decides to write a ransom letter after speaking to Bessie, his girlfriend. Mary’s mother, who had already contacted an investigator, delivers the note to him. This leads to the discovery of her burned body within the furnace.

Bigger decides to escape accompanied by Bessie, although she did not want to be any part of the incident. The police finally find out that Bigger is behind the crime and begin a search for them. Meanwhile, Bigger rapes Bessie and eventually murders her deeming her as a liability.

In the end, Bigger gets captured by the police and placed under custody awaiting trial. Upon the arrival of his family to visit him, he realizes how much his actions have disappointed his family. Despite his lawyer’s efforts to defend him in the courtroom, he is, nevertheless, handed a death sentence via the electric chair. The story culminates with Bigger sitting in his cell waiting to be transported to the room whereby he will meet his death.