Literature Study GuidesNative SonFlight Book 2 With The Family Summary

Native Son | Study Guide

Richard Wright

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Native Son | Flight, Book 2 (With the Family) | Summary



Bigger awakens in his apartment and remembers the events of the night before. He sees Mary's purse on a chair and rushes outside to put it and his knife in a trashcan while he wonders if he missed any other details. He returns to the apartment to pack his things to take to the Daltons', deciding it's better to act normally than go on the run.

Bigger and his mother have a tense conversation about the new job and about the time Bigger returned home the night before. Mrs. Thomas thinks it was around 3:00 a.m., but Bigger insists it was earlier. As he looks around the room, he realizes how shabby their home is and feels angry. While the family eats breakfast, Bigger realizes his actions have removed the fear he has felt most of his life. He feels no remorse for the murder, instead considering it his first act of absolute freedom. He decides he can do whatever he wants to do as long as he appears to be following the rules, and he decides his mother and siblings are blind. This feeling follows him while he rides the streetcar back to the Daltons' home and keeps him from fleeing town. As he looks at other people from the windows of the streetcar, he thinks of white people less as other humans and more as a force of nature that controls the lives of black people. He considers what might happen if all black people united under a single leader.


After killing Mary Bigger feels that he has unraveled the secret to life: do what you want, but act like people think you're supposed to act. He decides that the people who follow the rules, like his mother and the other members of his community, are blind to this reality and are foolish for following the rules when there is no benefit for them. His logic and sense of freedom make a twisted kind of sense. Now that the worst thing he pictured for himself has happened, and he is facing a world of trouble if he gets caught, he is free to do what he wishes. He is facing a capital crime if he is caught, so it is not as if his punishment will be worse if he continues to give in to his impulses.

Bigger also gives some thought to how all black people might escape fear and shame. He thinks about the totalitarian regimes taking root in Germany, Italy, and Japan and considers the rule of a single leader a possible solution for improving the lives of black people in the United States. He does not have these ideas because he approves of leaders such as German chancellor Adolf Hitler (1889–1945) and Italian prime minister Benito Mussolini (1883–1945), but the idea of change through a united force under a single leader appeals to him as an escape from fear.

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