In Native Son, describe the way Bigger is hunted down after he has fled the Dalton home, say how it would have been different if he were white?

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lprono eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The manhunt that takes place at the end of Book Two ("Flight") involves "a cordon of five thousand police, augmented by more than three thousand volunteers" (page 282) who are sent into Chicago's Black Belt to get Bigger. This disproportionate use of police forces and the public hysteria that accompanies it can be explained with Bigger's race, with the social status of his first victim Mary Dalton and with the fact that Bigger is suspected not only of having killed her, but also of committing rape. Because Bigger is black and Mary is white, to some people, the accusation of rape is even worse than murder. The way Bigger responds sexually to Mary Dalton was one of the most disturbing points of the novel and Wright had to expunge several scenes from the first edition (such as the masturbation scene after he sees Mary on a newsreel). Wright intersperses the narration of the manhunt (focalized through Bigger's eyes and consciousness) with newspaper titles and articles to illustrate the mounting frenzy against Bigger but also against the entire African American community: "It was reported that several hundred Negro employees throughout the city had been dismissed from jobs" (page 283). In the passages supposedly taken from newspapers, Wright also makes clear that the media use Bigger's case to denounce "Communism and racial mixture" as almost synonyms. The sense of white oppression against Bigger and the entire African American community is heightened through the symbol of the snow falling on the Black Belt during the manhunt.