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Literature Study GuidesNative SonFlight Book 2 Daltons Masion Bessies Place Summary

Native Son | Study Guide

Richard Wright

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Native Son | Flight, Book 2 (Daltons' Masion, Bessie's Place) | Summary



Bigger returns to the Daltons' house, and Peggy tells him Mary has not come downstairs. She asks why the car is in the driveway, and Bigger says Mary asked him to leave the car out last night. He sees an outline of Mary's body in the coals when he checks the furnace and dumps more coal on top of the remains, then he takes Mary's trunk to the train station as instructed. When he returns Peggy makes him breakfast, and Jan calls the house. Bigger tells Peggy that Mary was with Jan last night.

After breakfast Bigger eavesdrops on Peggy and Mrs. Dalton in the kitchen from the closet in his room. They talk about Mary's mysterious absence and speculate about where she spent the night and why she did not pack her new clothes for Detroit. Later Mrs. Dalton questions Bigger in his room, asking about the car and the trunk, and Bigger claims Jan went with Mary to her room when he brought them home last night. Mrs. Dalton gives Bigger the day off, and he goes to see Bessie.

When Bigger gets to Bessie's, he shows her the roll of money, which makes Bessie suspicious. The two of them have sex, and Bessie continues to ask about the money and Mary afterward. They go out for a drink, and Bigger hatches a plan to send a ransom note to the Daltons. He wants Bessie to help him collect the money, but his assurances that they won't be caught only makes Bessie more suspicious about what he has done. She tearfully agrees to help him before he returns to the Dalton mansion.


Bigger goes back to the Dalton mansion because he does not believe he has a good reason to run. He is convinced that no one would believe that a black man would have the brains, cunning, or courage to kill the daughter of a high-profile millionaire and dispose of the body so she would not be found. This feeling of being underestimated feeds Bigger's pride in his actions, a pride that makes him wish he could confess in order to brag about it.

Because he can't shout his actions from the rooftops, he hints at his accomplishments to Bessie, showing her the money as a way of impressing her. Her immediate reaction is to assume he has gotten into some kind of trouble, because the other assumption in her world of brutal poverty is that money like the roll Bigger presents to her cannot be gotten honestly. He hints at the truth but doesn't tell her the story, which shows that neither of them really trusts the other. Their relationship is based on physical intimacy that provides each of them an escape from their problems—similar to the escape Bigger finds in other physical activities.

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