critical essay sethe and bigger

critical essay sethe and bigger - Ananth Bulusu 11-29-2011...

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Ananth Bulusu 11-29-2011 Racial and Gender Identities Defined by Crime It has been well documented that in the United States there is a large discrepancy in the social demographics of the prison population . According to the US Bureau of Statistics in 2006, 4 .8% of black males are in jail or prison compared to 0.7% of white males. The history of brutality towards blacks is haunting, with so many victim to lynching in the 19 th and 20 th centuries . Throughout this course, African-American characters often unjustly play the role of perpetrator in comparison with their white counterparts, and endure harsh punishment at their hands . In Native Son by Richard Wright, and Beloved by Toni Morrison, the protagonists Bigger Thomas and Sethe respectively, commit murders, which shape their fates in the novels . The crimes committed by both Bigger and Sethe are actions that display racial prejudices manifested in the characters creating accurate ideas of race and gender identity in America . Wright and Morrison use these moments to evidence the hypocrisy of the beliefs of white society and how these white prejudices create the perpetual fate of poverty, isolation, and incarceration for African Americans . Bigger Thomas lives in a poverty stricken, primarily black neighborhood in Chicago’s south side . He is constantly reminded that he lives in a world in which the white community is sophisticated, and the black community is backward . He goes through life ignorant and afraid of whites; they are an entity which seems too daunting and elevated for him . Whites live in a completely separate part of town, limiting Bigger’s knowledge of them, and fueling his fear . Because of the repressive force that is white society, Bigger is presented with scarce
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opportunities for social uplift, himself stating that “he could take the job at the Dalton’s and be miserable, or he could refuse it and starve” (Wright, 16) . To whites Bigger is a senseless brute, with little function to them but subservience . Yet he is a character who cannot rest knowing that his position is so helpless, and his very restlessness is what makes him so dangerous . Bigger’s subconscious awareness of his position is key in understanding the driving force behind the murder’s he commits . Sethe was a former slave in Kentucky on Sweet Home Plantation, before making her escape to Ohio to live a free life with Baby Suggs her mother-in-law, and her children . Sethe lives with her youngest child, her daughter Denver, in isolation at 124 Bluestone Road . Baby Suggs has recently passed away and her two older sons ran away soon before her death . The reason for the family’s isolation and her sons’ flight is because of a ghost that haunts the house, making 124 a living character in the novel . The ghost is known to be the spirit of Sethe’s third child, a daughter who died in infancy . Upon the arrival of Paul D, another former slave of Sweet Home, the ghost departs, but Paul D’s presence forces Sethe to revisit memories of the past in
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This note was uploaded on 12/14/2011 for the course SCHC 365t taught by Professor Ms.adams during the Fall '11 term at South Carolina.

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critical essay sethe and bigger - Ananth Bulusu 11-29-2011...

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