Native Son


Book Three (part three)

Summary Book Three (part three)

Bigger’s awakening to the possibility of a connection with others represents a new source of hope. He has left religion behind because it only offers hope in the afterlife, but now he has found beliefs that enable him to see hope in this world. He imagines being able to reach out and touch the hearts of others around him. He feels that in his recognition of others, and their recognition of him, he can gain the identity and wholeness for which he has longed. Earlier, Bigger thinks that he has found this identity in his new status as a murderer, but that status leaves him tormented by guilt. This new identity brings Bigger an image of himself standing in a crowd of men in a blinding sun that has burned away all differences—not only differences of race, but of class as well.

Bigger struggles with the inner conflict produced by this new hope, and knows he must reconcile his new hope with the certainty that he will be sentenced to death. In the face of death, such hope is a torment. Bigger now longs for more time to examine and understand his relation to others. His new fear is that he will die before he has time to reach this understanding fully. He also feels defenseless in the face of ongoing hatred, despairing that the voices of hate will drown everything else out and continue long after he is dead. The mobs and the newspapers continue to call Bigger a monster, and he wonders if it is not better to hide again behind his wall of hate. Fighting this battle within himself, he realizes that to win the battle for his life on the outside he must first win it on the inside. This realization represents the end of the split consciousness from which Bigger has suffered throughout the novel. His newfound wholeness, although something he only barely understands, gives him the power to achieve victory in a sense, regardless of the outcome of his trial.