Native Son by Richard Wright
BOOK ONE: FEAR
mother - laundress
Vera Thomas - lighter skinned than her mother
Doc - fat black man, runs pool hall
Henry Dalton - made money in real estate after marriage to Mrs. Dalton
Mrs. Dalton - blind, had millions when Henry married her, interested in helping black people
Mary Dalton - student
Peggy - Ihousekeeper / cook, has been at Dalton house 20 yrs.
Mrs. Patterson - takes care of Mrs. Dalton
Green - the black man who works as Dalton's chauffeur before Bigger
Jan Erlone - Mary's boyfriend
Bessie - Bigger's girlfriend
An alarm goes off, and a woman's voice calls for Bigger to turn it off and turn on the light. He does so, and the inhabitants of the room where Bigger, his mother, his brother Buddy and his sister Vera all sleep wake up and take turns dressing and looking away. They hear a tapping noise and the mother and Vera get up on the bed while Bigger and Buddy prepare to kill a large rat with whose presence they all seem familiar. Bigger instructs Buddy to block the rat's hole with a wooden box, and when Bigger finally kills the trapped animal they see that it is large and black, a foot long, with big yellow teeth. Bigger holds the rat up to Vera and scares her into a faint, then takes the rat out. Bigger's mother scolds him about scaring Vera, then about not working like a man and running around with his gang. She warns that "some of these days you going to set down and cry. Some of these days you going to wish you had made something of yourself, instead of just a tramp. But it'll be too late then" (9). Vera is getting ready for a YWCA sewing class and tells her mother not to worry and that she'll be old enough to work soon. Bigger "shut their voices out of his mind. He hated the family because he knew that they were suffering and that he was powerless to help them. He knew that the moment he allowed himsel to feel to its fulness how they lived, the shame and misery of their lives, he would be swept out of himself with fear and dispair. So he held toward them an attitude of iron reserve; he lived with them, but behind a wall, a curtain. And toward himself he was even more exacting. He knew that the moment he allowed what his life meant to enter fully into his consciousness, he would either kill himself or someone else. So he denied himself and acted tough" (10). Bigger's mother reminds him that he has to go see Mr. Dalton at 5:30 that day to see about a job, and that if he doesn't take the job the relief will cut the family off and leave them without food.
Bigger walks around wanting more money than the penny he had and the quarter his mother has given him for carfare. He and his friends have long been planning to rob Blum's Delicatessen, and he is confident that they can make a lot of money if they do so. So far they have only robbed black people, and Blum is white. This job will be more dangerous because the police don't try very hard to find you when you rob another black person. Vera walks by and urges Bigger to stay away from his friends Gus, Jack and G.H. He is annoyed and tells her to go. Gus walks up, and the two talk and watch a plane write USE SPEED GASOLINE in the sky. Bigger says he could fly a plane and Gus agrees, if he were white and had money and they'd let him go to aviation school (17). Bigger suggests to Gus that they "play 'white'" (16). They mimic the speech and manerisms of a General, then Mr. J.P. Morgan selling shares by phone, and then the President and Secretary of State talking about keeping blacks in line (18-19). Bigger complains about all that the whites don't let him do, and admires the freedom of a pigeon they see flying (21). He confides to Gus that he feels like something awful is going to happen to him (20). At the pool hall, Bigger brings up the idea of robbing Blum's bug Gus is hesitant because Blum has a gun (24). When Jack and G.H. show up, he urges them to do the job with them and when all have agreed but Gus who is still wavering the narrator says, "He hated Gus because he felt that Gus was afraid, as even he was; and he feared Gus because he felt that Gus would consent and then he would be compelled to go through with the robbery" (26). Bigger cusses Gus, who says that he will do the job but that Bigger is too hot-tempered and doesn't have to cuss hum (27).
They go to see Trader Horn at the Regal for 20 cents, and Jack and Bigger masturbate before the movie and then move to other seats (30). A newsreel plays before the movie that shows rich white girls at a beach in Florida, and the announcer says that one of the girls is Mary Dalton and that she was seeing a white radical, a Communist, and that her parents made her come home when they found out (32). None of the friends are quite clear on what a Communist is, but Jack suggests that Bigger may get a chance to sleep with Mary Dalton (34). Thinking about Mary Dalton, Bigger thinks that it is stupid for him to rob Blum's and miss the chance at making money through Mary Dalton. The friends leave the movie to get their guns. Gus is later than the others getting back to the pool hall, but he arrives (37). Scarred to do the job they've planned, Bigger picks a fight with Gus and then says it is too late for the job now. He cuts the green of Doc's pool table as he leaves and dares the proprietor to use a gun on him (41).
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Bigger goes home after the fight to wait for the time when he will go to Dalton's. He decides to bring his knife and gun, to give him "a sense of completeness" and because he will have to walk through a white neighborhood to get to the house (43). When Bigger gets to the house he is confused about whether to enter the front gate, by the loud gong set off by the doorbell, by the closeness of Peggy (the housekeeper) as she holds the door open, by a soft chair that gives too easily under him - all of these make him angry and uncomfortable (46). Mr. Dalton brings him to another room, and they pass Mrs. Dalton in the hall. Standing before Mr. Dalton Bigger is embarassed and unsure where to look or how to act. Mr. Dalton has heard from the relief people that Bigger is a good worker when interested but that he gets into trouble. Bigger denies the theft he had been accused of, and says no when Mr. Dalton asks if he would steal now (50). Mr. Dalton asks about his family's living conditions and the rent they pay, and offers Bigger $25/week - five for Bigger to keep for himself and sleep in a room in the house, and $20 to send to his family (50). Mr. Dalton explains Bigger's driving responsibilities and says Bigger should come see him, "any time you're bothered about anything" (51). Mary Dalton comes in to ask her father to buy concert tickets, meets Bigger, and asks Bigger whether he's in a union. Mr. Dalton goes out to talk to Mary while Bigger worries that she will lose him his job. When Mr. Dalton comes back, he tells bigger that he is hiring him because he supports the NAACP and calls Peggy to give Bigger dinner.
When she gets his dinner, Peggy tells Bigger that one of his jobs will be to keep the furnace fire going. She shows him how to work the furnace, and then shows him his room and the garage. He lays on the bed for a while before he has to get the car ready to drive Miss Dalton, and thinks about how he'll be able to drink or have Bessy over without anyone to bother him. Before it's time to get the car out, he goes to the kitchen for a glass of water and sees Mrs. Dalton, who asks if he's ever thought about continuing his education. As Bigger is driving Miss Dalton to the university, she has him turn onto a side street and tells him that she isn't actually going to the school but that if anyone asks he should say she did (64). Bigger drives Mary to a building where she goes in and then comes out to introduce him to Jan (66). Jan holds Bigger's hand, and it bothers him - "He felt naked, transparent; he felt that this white man, having helped to put him down, having helped to deform him, held him up now to look at him and be amused. At that moment he felt toward Mary and Jan a dumb, cold, and inarticulate hate" (67). Jan tells Bigger to let him drive and the three of them drive around with Bigger stiff and uncomfortable between them. They want to go to a restaarant on the South Side and ask him to suggest a "real place" where blacks eat. When they get to Ernie's kitchen he is relieved to be able to stretch out until he realizes that they want him to go in with them.
At dinner, Jack says hello to Bigger while staring at Jan and Mary, and Bessie also says hello and then that she didn't realize Bigger had company. Bigger has trouble eating the fried chicken and Jan asks him a series of questions about himself. They order rum and as Bigger drinks the situation gets easier for him.
After dinner Bigger drives Mary and Jan in the park, and they make out in the backseat. Mary asks Bigger to bring her trunk to the station the next morning because she will be going to Detroit for three days. Mary says to Jan that after she graduates she will join to Communist party and wants to work helping black people. She says she wants to meet black people and asks Jan if he knows any; he says not very well but that she will meet plenty when she joins the party. Mary admires black people's emotion and their spirituals, and she asks Bigger to sing, which he does only briefly, disapproving of Jan's musical ability when he joins in. Mary and Jan drink form a bottle of rum in the backseat.
On the ride home, Bigger can see Mary's legs and she leans against him in the front seat. When Bigger and Mary get home, she is too drunk to walk and he brings her in through the back and mostly carries her up to her room. He is very aware of her body, and in her room he kisses her and touches her breasts. He hears the door creak and Mrs. Dalton comes in calling for Mary and asking whether she is ill. Mary keeps mumbling and Bigger puts his hand and then the pillow over her mouth so that Mrs. Dalton will not come to the bed and find him there. Mary tries to sit up and Bigger puts the pillow over her whole face and pushes her down to keep her still. Her nails dig into his skin but then she is still and Mrs. Dalton approaches as Bigger backs away. Mrs. Dalton, smelling the rum, believes her daughter dead drunk from whiskey and prays. When she leaves, Bigger sees that Mary's eyes are open and that she is not breathing.
At first Bigger plans to blame Jan, the Red, but then he remembers having read about fingerprints in a newspaper. He sees Mary's trunk in the room and realizes that this can be his excuse for having his fingerprints in the room, and then remembers that the family sleeps late on Sundays and that Mary is planning to leave for Detroit that morning. If he hides her and takes the trunk, they will think that she has gone. He puts her body into the trunk and brings it downstairs where he sees the furnace. Deciding to burn the body, Bigger feeds it into the furnace feet first and is alarmed to find the head will not go in. He sees the family cat and thinks that he should put the cat in the furnace too, but the cat runs away through the open door to the kitchen. Bigger closes the door and, using newspapers to soak up the blood, starts to cut off Mary's head with his knife. He has to use a hatchet to finish and then throws the hatchet and the newspapers in with the body and adds coal to the fire. He puts the trunk in the car and finds Mary's purse, which he takes. He hurries home and slips into bed beside Buddy.
BOOK TWO: FLIGHT
Mr. Bitten - private investigator who works at Dalton's office
Bigger wakes up early Sunday morning in his family's apartment, sees Mary's purse on top of a pile of his clothing and wonders whether he has forgotten other things. He looks through the pamphlets Jan gave him - "Race Prejudice on Trial. The Negro Question in the United States. Black and White Unite and Fight." (98). He thinks over his plan to blame the murder on Jan as he packs his suitcase. When his mother wakes up she asks about his job and mentions that he wasn't home until four -he insists that he was in at two and senses that he is making mistake by pressing the matter. Vera also questions him when she wakes up, and then gets angry with him because he looks at her absently while she is putting on her shoes. Buddy also questions Bigger about the job, mentioning that he can get a better girl than Bessie now that he has a job. Bigger eats breakfast with his family. "Yes; he could sit here calmly nad eat and not be concerned about what his family thought or did. He had a natural wall form behind which he could look at them . . . . He was outside his family now, over and beyond them; they were incapable of even thinking that he had done such a deed. And he had done something which even he had not thought possible" (106). Although Bigger has Mary's money he asks his mother for some to cover his tracks, and she gives him a half dollar. He sees the beginning of a tiredness in Vera that reminds him of that in his mother. When he leaves, Buddy follows and asks whether Bigger is in trouble and whether he can help, then turns over a roll of bills (from Mary's purse) that had dropped from Bigger's pocket. Bigger gives Buddy a bill and tells him not to tell anyone. He buys G.H. then Jack and Gus each a pack of cigarettes and gives each a dollar, then returns to the Dalton house.
Bigger feels at first that his murder of Mary is justified by the shame she makes him feel, but he knows that the source of the shame is more complex than that. "There were rare moments when a feeling and longing for solidarity with other black people would take hold of him. He would dream of making a stand against that white force, but that dream would fade when he looked at the other black people near him . . . . Only when threatened with death could that happen; only in fear and shame, with their backs against a wall, could that happen. But never could they sink their differences in hope" (114). "Ultimately, though, his hate and hope turned outward from himself and Gus: his hope toward a vague benevolent something that would help and lead him, and his hate toward the whites; for he felt that they ruled him, even when they were far away and not thinking of him, ruled hum by conditioning him in his relations to his own people" (115). Peggy is in the basement when Bigger arrives, and mentions that the fire was hot in the night but had been low that morning. Bigger says that he will fix it. Peggy asks about the car, and Bigger tells her that Miss Dalton had asked him to leave it out in the driveway. Bigger takes Mary's trunk to the car and then, after waiting a few minutes, rings at the front door to ask for her. Peggy is surprised that Mary is not around, but assumes she has been up to some of her pranks and tells Bigger to leave the trunk at the station. She fixes him breakfast when he comes back. Jan calls while Bigger is eating, and when Peggy asks who Mary was out with the night before Bigger tells her that it was Jan. Bigger hears Mrs. Dalton and Peggy talking about Marry, and listens from his closet. Mrs. Dalton notices that Mary has not packed all of her things for Detroit. Bigger lays down on his bed, and wakes to Mrs. Dalton ringing for him. She questions him about Mary and Jan, and he mentions that they had all gone up to Mary's room together and says that Mary had asked him to bring her trunk down then. Mrs. Dalton gives him the rest of the day off, and he goes to see Bessie.
Bessie is sore thinking that Bigger has snubbed her the night before and by not telling her where he was, but he placates her letting her see Mary's money and gets her to sleep with him. She mentions that the Dalton's live near where Loeb and Leopold had killed a boy and then pretended it was a kidnapping to get money from the Frank family. Bigger evades any questions Bessie asks, and takes her out for a drink when he feels like she's asking too much about his roll of cash. "As he walked beside her he felt that there were two Bessies: one a body that he had just had and wanted badly again; another was in Bessie's face; it asked questions; it bargained and sold the other Bessie to advantage" (140). Later, Bigger asks Bessie whether she'd help him if he had to leave town suddenly and needed money, and she asks whether she would bring him. Bessie says she would help if he took her with him, and asks what's going on. Bigger tells her that Mary has run away and that he plans to pretend it was a kidnapping and write a note demanding that the money be tossed from a car. He needs her to watch and collect the money. Bessie doesn't want to do it, but tentatively agrees when she sees that his mind is set.
When Bigger gets back to the Dalton's, Peggy tells him that he is to go and pick up Mary's trunk at the station. Mr. Dalton questions him about what happened the night before and then seconds the instruction to go and pick up the trunk. Bigger is about to look inside the trunk when Mr. Dalton comes down to the basement with the private investigator Mr. Bitten. Mr Bitten wants to look in the trunk and Bigger is briefly worried about the missing hatchet, but Mr. Bitten kicks the trunk open with his heel. When Mr. Bitten questions him Bigger tells about the events of the night before and the PI seems sympathetic about the horror of Bigger's having to eat with Jan and Mary. Bigger seems to admit reluctantly that it is Jan and not Mary who instructs him to bring down the trunk, explaining that he does not say so earlier because to do so would have revealed what Mary had been doing that night, which she had asked Bigger to keep secret. Mr. Bitten has found the pamphlets that Bigger leaves on purpose in his drawer, and tries to get Bigger to admit that he is a communist. Mr. Dalton, remembering Mary's attempt to interest Bigger in Unions the night before, backs up Bigger's denial. Bitten decides to talk to Jan, and Bigger, left alone, stretches out on his bed. Bigger wakes to find that Bitten has returned with Jan, and he and Mr. Dalton question Jan in Bigger's presence while the former appeals to Bigger to tell the truth about what has happened, and seems to think Bigger has been put up to the lie. After the interview Bigger wants to see Bessie, and when Jan confronts him outside the house he pulls his gun on him. He buys and envelope, a paper and a pencil and goes to Bessie's. In the note, he gives instructions for Dalton to drop the ransom where a light flashes at the car between 35th and 40th streets on Michigan Ave, and signs the note "Red" with the communist insignia. Bessie suspects that Bigger has killed Mary, and fears that he will kill her too. He tells her that this is nonsense and that he loves her. Bigger takes Bessie out to an abandoned house to tell her what to do when she picks up the money the next night.
Back at the Dalton's, Bigger goes upstairs to look for his dinner. Unsure whether the take the plate covered in a napkin, he realizes the irony in his being able to kill a rich white girl and plan to extort ransom from her family while he is afraid to take a plate of food obviously meant for him. Peggy comes in and gives him the dinner, asks whether he's scared by all that's been going on, and reminds him to remove the ashes from the furnace in the morning. Peggy finds the ransom note where Bigger has left it under the door, and Mr. Dalton comes in to tell her what it contains and ask whether she and Bigger have seen anyone around the house. Mr. Bitten comes over to see the note and, from his place in the closet, Bigger hears him questioning Peggy about Bigger in a conversation that seems mainly concerned with whether Bigger shows the proper deference owed by a black man and whether he seems more intelligent than he lets on. Bitten has a colleague with him, and they try without luck to convince Mr. Dalton to call in the police. Bigger tries to window in his room to see whether it opens, and is lying on his bed when one of Bitten's associates knocks on his door. Bigger goes down to the basement where he is again interviewed by Mr, Bitten, this time mostly about Jan, his statements about Communism, and his intimacy with Mary.
Some members of the press show up wanting information and tell Bitten that an article has already run about Jan's arrest in connection with the disappearance. Bitten at first says that no statement will be made until Tuesday, but Mr. Dalton then decides to use the press to communicate with the kidnappers by running a story saying that the ransom will be paid and the police not involved. Bitten encourages Bigger to tell the newspapermen about his experience with Jan, and the newspapermen are excited - one says, "What a story! Don't you see it? These Negroes want to be left alone and these Reds are forcing 'em to live with 'em, see? Every wire in the country'll carry it!" while another remarks, "Say, I'm slanting this to the primitive Negro who doesn't want to be disturbed by white civilization" (214). They commend the story as "classic" and "a natural" (214). Peggy comes down again to remind Bigger to clean the fire, and he lets some coal down but it doesn't light properly. The room starts to fill with smoke and Bigger freezes unsure how to clean out the ashes without risking his secret. Another men grabs the shovel to help and as the fire begins to burn better and the air to clear, he tells Bigger he shouldn't let the ashes go so long. The newsmen are then surprised to find first a bone and then an earring, and Bigger sneaks up to his room, locks the door and leaves through the window. On his way to Bessie's he picks up a copy of the tribune and reads the story that had been released about the kidnapping. His own photo is in the newspaper with a caption saying "REDS TRIED TO SNARE HIM" (223-4)
Bessie is relieved to hear that she doesn't have to pick up the ransom money, but then Bigger tells her that he killed Mary, that the bones have been found, and that they'll be after him soon. Bessie fixes Bigger some hot milk, and when he tells her what happened with Mary says that they'll say he raped her. "Had he raped her? Yes, he had raped her. Every time he felt as he had felt that night, he raped. But rape was not what one did to a woman. Rape was what one felt when one's back was against a wall and one had to strike out, whether one wanted to or not, to keep the pack from killing one" (228). They take some blankets and quilts from Bessie's apartment and leave to find an abandoned building to sleep in. Bigger thinks about Bessie - "What could he do with her? She would be a dangerous burden. It would be impossible to take her if she were going to act like this, and yet he could not leave her here. Coldly, he knew that he had to take her with him, and then at some future time settle thing with her, settle them in a way that would not leave him in any danger. He thought of it calmly, as if the decision were being handed down to him by some logic not his own, over which he had no control, but which he had to obey" (229). Bessie complains about her life and says that it has always been trouble, hunger or sickness and that she had to get drunk to forget it. She knows she has to leave with him but also knows that he really doesn't care, and says she wishes that one of them had died before they were born. They find an abandoned house and lay down, Bessie complaining, and when he starts to kiss her she tries to turn away. He wants her and has sex with her despite her repeated pleas that he not. The apparently nonconsentual sex is described in ambigious terms: "Bessie was still, unresisting, without response. His icy fingers touched inside of her and at once she spoke, not a word, but a sound that gave forth a meaning of horror accepted. Her breath went out of her lungs in long soft gasps that turned to a whisper of pleading"; "Bessie's hands were on his chest, her fingers spread protestingly open, pushing him away. He heard her give a soft moan that seemed not to end even when she breathed in or out; a moan which he heard, too, from far away and without heeding" (233;234). After Bessie has fallen asleep Bigger, thinking that he can neither take Bessie with him nor leave her here, hits her over the head repeatedly with a brick and throws her down an air shaft. He realizes afterward that the money is in her dress pocket, but he does not want to see her again and so is left with seven cents. The narrator describes Bigger's actions as being in reaction to outside forces but then says that Bigger "felt that there was something missing, some road which, if he had once found it, would have led him to a sure and quiet knowledge. But why think of that now? A chance for that was gone forever. He had committed murder twice and had created a new world for himself.
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At daybreak, Bigger goes to the first floor and looks out to see the headline - "HUNT BLACK IN GIRL'S DEATH." Wanting to learn more about the state of the investigation and search, he steals a newspaper and learns that the police and three thousand volunteers have surrounded the black belt. He learns that the authorities are hinting at a sex crime and is incised by the comment that, "Police are not yet satisfied with the account Erlone has given of himself and are of the conviction that he may be linked to the Negro as an accomplice; they feel that the plan of the murder and kidnapping was too elaborate to be the work of a Negro mind" (245). There is a map in which shaded portions show the parts of the black neighborhood that have already been searched while white shows those yet to be covered, and he calculates that at the rate they are moving the search will be at his present location by midnight. Negro homes are being searched under a blanket warrant as are abandoned buildings. The article does not mention empty flats, and Bigger decides that an empty flat in an occupied building will be the safest. After reading the article he looks to the building across from him where three children are watching their parents have sex, and he reflects on his similar experiences in the past and the effects of forced overcrowding in the black belt. He walks in the street, keeping an eye out for a "For Rent" sign he knows will be hard to find in the area. He buys a loaf of bread and remembers that bread like housing is more expensive here than in the white area. When Bigger finally sees a "For Rent" sign in a two story flat building, he lets himself in through the unlocked window. There is an argument going on in a nearby flat in which a man named Jack says that Bigger is making things hard for all blacks (he has a wife and kids and has just been laid off from his job by a boss who said he didn't want him out fixing the streets in the current atmosphere) and that he would give him up to the police if he saw him, while another man says that all blacks are murderers in whites' eyes and says he would die before giving Bigger up. He falls asleep, then wakes up fearful and goes out to buy a paper. He finds another empty flat in the fourth floor of a larger building. A woman named Ellen nearly finds him sneaking in and he thinks that if she had caught him he would have had to kill both she and her husband. The Times has another map of the search and Bigger sees that he is in the center of a tiny white square of housing that remains un-searched.
When they get to the building he is in, Bigger ascends to the roof. The first man to come out through the trapdoor does not see him. When a second man (Jerry) goes up. Bigger hits him on the head with his gun. Other men come up and, seeing Jerry, they sound the alarm to surround the block. Bigger is shot at as he runs from roof to roof hiding as much as he can behind chimneys and nearly running off the edge of the roof at the end of the block. There is a big white water tower on this building, and Bigger climbs it. His hands are cold and he misses two shots at men he sees approaching the water tower. The searchers throw tear gas up onto the water tower but he throws them back and the wind dissipates the gas. Bigger is already freezing, and when the men spray him with cold water he can hardly move. They want him to throw his gun down but he can't even pick it up, and then the water knocks down first the gun and then Bigger. The men bring him into the building and drag him down the stairs by the feet into a crowd that screams to lynch him. Two men step on his wrists and he blacks out.
BOOK THREE: FATE
Reverend Hammond - Bigger's mother's Reverend, who comes to see Bigger in jail and gives him a wooden cross to wear around his neck
Max / Mr. Max. - friend of Jan's, Defense Fund lawyer who takes Bigger's case
Buckley - State's Attorney, currently campaigning
Bigger is taken to the Eleventh Street Police Station where he is in "in the grip of a deep physiological resolution not to react to anything" and he refuses to eat, speak or accept cigarettes (274). One morning he is brought to the Cook County Morgue, where he sees Mrs. Dalton and Jan among the crowd at his inquest, becomes aware of his own body, and then faints. He drinks some water and eats a meal then sleeps. When he wakes up he requests a paper and learns that, "Overwhelmed by the sight of his accusers, Bigger Thomas, Negro sex-slayer, fainted dramatically this morning at the inquest of Mary Dalton, Millionaire Chicago heiress" (279). The article includes extensive commentary from the editor of the Jackson Daily Star about how blacks are handled in the South.
Bigger closes his eyes after reading the article, and opens them to see Reverend Hammond, sent by Bigger's mother to come to pay him a visit. The Reverend describes God's love for Bigger and recounts the story of creation, and asks Bigger to promise that he will try to stop hating long enough for God's love to come into his heart (285). The Reverend puts a wooden cross around Bigger's neck, and then Jan comes in. Jan is not angry and says that it hurts him to have lost Mary Dalton but that he has thought about it and understands why Bigger had to pull a gun on him the night after the interview with Bitten (287). He says that when he first heard that Bigger had killed Mary he had wanted to kill him, "And then I got to thinking I saw if I killed, then this thing would go on and on and never stop. I said, 'I'm going to help that guy, if he lets me'" (288). Bigger sees that Jan is offering a friendship that will make other white men hate him, and "for the first time in his life a white man became a human being to him" (289). Jan wants Bigger to speak with a lawyer named Max from the Defense Fund. Rev. Hammond commends Jan's feeling but warns against dragging Communism into the case and stirring up hate. Max tells Bigger that there is no need to pay hi and that there is no need for him to answer questions at the inquest. When Buckley, the States Attorney, comes in, Max tells him that Bigger is his client and will be signing no confessions. Mr. and Mrs. Dalton come in next, and Max says in response to Mr. and Mrs. Dalton's statements that they had tried to help Bigger by wanting to send him to school that, "those things don't touch the fundamental problems here. This boy comes from an oppressed people. Even if he's done wrong, we must take that into consideration" (294). Max argues that, "If you felt that millions of others experienced life as deeply as you, but differently, you'd see that what you're doing doesn't help. Something of a more fundamental nature . . ." (295). Bigger's mother, Vera, Buddy, Gus, G.H. and Jack arrive next. Bigger's mother is in anguish and Buddy offers to kill some white people if Bigger is innocent, so Bigger surprises them by telling them not to worry and that. "I'll be out of this in no time" (297)). Bigger's friends say they had been picked up too but that Mr. Erlone and Mr. Max had had them released. Bigger's mother tells him that Vera nolonger goes to the sewing class at the Y and the narrator says, "He had lived and acted on the assumption that he was alone, and now he saw that he had not been. What he had done made others suffer. No matter how much he would long for them to forget him, they would not be able to. HIs family was a part of him, not only in blood, but in spirit" (198). Bigger urges his mother to forget him, and then in response to her pleas promises that he will pray (300). When an appology by Buckley to Mr. Dalton alerts Mrs. Thomas that Mr. and Mrs. Dalton are in the room, she tells them that her family is being forced to move and pleas with them not to let her son be killed. Mrs. Dalton says that she has tried to help Bigger but that there is nothing she can do now, and when Mrs. Thomas appeals to Mr. Dalton he says that it is out of his hands but that Mrs. Thomas will not have to move.
Bigger is left alone in the cell with Buckley, who calls Bigger's attention to the mob outside, mentions that Bessie's body had been found where she had awoken after his attempted murder and tried to crawl from the air shaft, and casually acuses Bigger of the rape and murder of a Mrs. Clinton and the rape of Miss Ashton. Buckley suggests that these four are not the only women he has raped and killed, and leads Bigger into a confession through his denials of the additional murders and the alleged rape of Miss Dalton. Once Bigger has signed the confession, Buckley says to his helper that he'll be at his club and to let him know how to inquest turns out.
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Trader Horn (movie)
Gus whistles "The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down"
"We'll Understand it By and By" - Mary Dalton mentions a song that blacks sing