Explain Bessie's murder and Mary's murder in the following areas: brutality, motive, and consequences.

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MaudlinStreet | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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  • Brutality- Bessie's murder was incredibly violent. Following what appears to be rape (she repeatedly tells Bigger "No"), he beats her skull in with a brick, then throws her body down an airshaft. Compared with this horror, Mary's death is relatively peaceful. It is certainly unintentional-Bigger tries to keep Mary quiet & inadvertently suffocates her.
  • Motive- Again, Bessie's murder was prompted by Bigger's compromised situation. He sees her as a liability, now that the police are chasing him. So her murder is a brutal, premeditated act. Mary's murder really has no motive, because he does not intend to kill her. He is frightened at being discovered in her room, because he will be accused of rape if he is. The irony is that he kills Mary out of this fear, while purposefully killing Bessie after committing that very crime.
  • Consequences- The consequences of Mary's murder are trial, guilty verdict, and eventually execution. It is the final culmination of Bigger's existence within a racist, white-dominated world. The consequences of Bessie's murder are perhaps the saddest, for there are no real consequences. Her body is merely displayed as evidence during the trial for Mary's murder. Bigger is never charged with the crime of killing Bessie, which testifies to the injustice of the society.

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