From the very beginning, the reader of this novel observes that racism is a critical issue in the society. This fact explains why Bigger’s fate appears to be sealed from the very start (Wright 85). He is eventually imprisoned and killed because of his wrongdoings. Despite this pre-established thought, an alternative ending can be suggested for this novel. Towards the end of the novel, the author could have featured or explored the life of Buddy. The reader observes that Buddy is someone who looks up to Bigger. Since Buddy is young and naive, the reader observes clearly that he wants to grow up and emulate Bigger’s behaviors. On the other hand, Vera is portrayed as a cool girl who is against Bigger’s behaviors. Vera believes strongly that Bigger is a troublemaker who makes the lives of people hard.
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The proposed ending can therefore portray the experiences of Vera and Buddy after Bigger is arrested. The novelist could have halted Bigger’s story after his arrest. The novel could have focused on the life of Buddy. That being the case, the new ending could have explained how Buddy would have gone further to learn from the mistakes and misbehaviors of his brother. Since from the very beginning Buddy is portrayed as someone who wants to be like his brother, the ending could have presented a new hope to the question of race in the society (Capers 32).
Several approaches could have been considered for this ending by the author. For instance, Buddy could have been portrayed a young man who goes further to educate more people in the society in an attempt to address the problem affecting his family. This ending could be appropriate towards reconciling the relationship between Buddy’s family and the other members of the society (Khan 7). By so doing, Buddy would have played a positive role towards addressing the problems affecting the society. The ending could make it easier for Buddy to relate with the other characters such as Jan Erlone and Boris Max. This new behavior would have become a new source of hope for Mrs. Thomas.
Additionally, the novel could have gone further to describe how Vera might have appreciated this kind of transformation. It is agreeable that Vera was always objected to Bigger’s behaviors and actions. This new ending would have made Vera happy especially after witnessing the crimes committed by her brother (Wright 102). This process would eventually make it easier for Vera to associate with Buddy. The two would have gone ahead to embrace the best social values and make their lives much better.
The ultimate goal of the proposed ending is to portray a scenario whereby Buddy and Vera learn from the mistakes committed by Bigger. Despite the fact that Bigger encountered discrimination in the society, the two characters would be on the frontline to outline new methods that can address the issues affecting them. This ending would portray a new situation whereby Buddy and his sister deal with the problem of racism in the society (Capers 22). Similarly, the other members of the society such as Boris Max and Jan Erlone would be involved in the process. The proposed actions would play a positive role towards transforming the experiences of more people in the society. This kind of ending could have given the novel a new tone and meaning.
Gender Portrayal and Roles
The novel “Native Son” is characterized by characters of the two genders. It becomes quite clear men and women are portrayed differently throughout the novel. For example, Bigger is portrayed as a black young man who is unhappy with the whites. He is seen to take up a number of jobs such as a being a chauffeur. Bigger is required to take care of Mary especially after she gets drunk. This society requires men to act ethically and respect women. However, the reader observes clearly that Bigger distrusted and hated the whites (Wright 81). Similar roles are undertaken by people such as Buddy and Peggy.
Through the use of such gender portrayals, the author advances the question of sexuality. For instance, black male sexuality appears to be matched and contrasted with white femininity. The white womanhood appears to be something that must be guarded from black male sexuality (Wright 78). This fact explains why Bigger wondered “what a white man would think after seeing him with marry” (Wright 93).
Mary’s role in the film serves to uplift Bigger’s status in the society. With this kind of proximity, the audience observes that Bigger enjoys the support and protection of the whites. At the same time, blacks are discriminated and treated as criminals even before any preliminary investigation. Mary’s behaviors contributed to the accident that led to her death (Elkholy 201). Mary should have listened and obeyed his father. The society expected white women to remain deferential to the norms and expectations of the society.
Men are seen to be out control especially in this unbalanced society. Bigger’s decision to rape and kill Bessie shows how men are forced to act as if they are in control in an unjust world. African American men in this film appear to lead a life of victimhood and oppression (Khan 3). This kind of violence eventually determines his destiny.
From this analysis, the gender roles presented in the novel affects the plot and character development. The plot is therefore founded on the unique roles of different genders and their respective racial affiliations. Bigger has to overcome the hurdles and challenges experienced by members of his racial group. He is forced to support the needs of the two females who eventually become his victims. This gender role forces Bigger to act in accordance with black male sexuality (Capers 9).
Similarly, Bigger’s mother and Vera take up minimum roles since they are black women in a prejudiced society. Consequently, she finds it hard to complete a wide range of roles. This fact explains why the characters are not fully developed in the novel. Mary appears to take control of the situation because she is white. Mary’s decision to go against her father’s instructions causes her death (Capers 28). Gender roles are therefore defined or guided by race.
Black men are portrayed as fighters in a ruthless society. This is the case with characters such as Jack Harding and G.H. Such characters are forced to work hard in order to realize their potentials. White men appear to take up legal professions such as Buckley, Borix Max, and Britten. This gender role explains why Borix Max is able to represent Bigger in court (Elkholy 209). Peggy is able to understand the issues affecting Bigger. This role makes it easier for the novelist to advance Bigger’s story. Buddy Thomas’ story reflects that of Bigger in terms of gender roles. This portrayal plays a positive role towards developing most of the characters in the novel.
Capers, Bennett. “The Trial of Bigger Thomas: Race, Gender, and Trespass.” N.Y.U. Review of Law & Social Change, vol. 31, no. 1, 2006, pp. 1-50.
Elkholy, Sharin. “Friendship Across Differences: Heidegger and Richard Wright’s Native Son.” Janus Head Journal, vol. 10, no. 1, 2007, pp. 199-216.
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Khan, Yameen. “Racial Conflict between Black and White Communities in Richard Wright’s Native Son.” The Criterion: An International Journal in English, vol. 1, no. 12, 2013, pp. 1-6.
Wright, Richard. Native Son. Harper & Brothers, 1993.