In "Native Son", Bigger's dream is to fly planes. Is Wright using this dream in a symbolic way? Explain.

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Good question. The act of flying has been used for centuries as a symbol for freedom. Since humans cannot fly under their own power, the symbolism of flight is associated with superheros, angelic beings and other methods of overcoming the physical laws of the universe. One of the most memorable stories of flying dates back to Greek times in the tale of Daedalus and Icarus. Daedalus invented wings to help he and his son escape from a tyrant, only to be sent into grief and remorse when Icaraus, his son, flies too close to the sun. In "Native Son" Bigger is prevented from even learning how to fly because he is African-American. As he watches a plane fly over Chicago, he is reminded this is just another thing he cannot do simply because of the color of his skin. Bigger cannot be a pilot and lead people into the sky in the same way he cannot escape the ghettos of Chicago. His dreams of flying and freedom are denied him because of his race. Like Daedalus, his attempt at flight will only lead to grief and remorse.

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Native Son

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