In "Native Son," explain how Bigger deals with his actions with regards to Mary and Bessie.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I don't see Bigger trying to blame anyone else for what he did.  That being said, I think that Bigger has convinced himself that he can "make this work."  For him, this is another example of the hurdles that a person of color, specifically African- American, has to face at the time.  In a sense, Bigger cannot blame anyone else because he lacks the vocabulary to figure out what is happening to him.  This might be the reason that sex and violence are so inextricably linked for Bigger.  Both of the murders were precipitated by an act of sexual gratification.  Bigger's sexual arousal of being with Mary and his desperate flight from trouble helped to advance the rape of Bessie.  In both acts, there is a confusion, which sex and violence become the language of action.  Bigger's inability to fully comprehend and control his emotions could be a result of the fact that he struggles to be in control of anything in his life.  Sex and violence seem to be the only things he can control.  The issue of blame is one where Bigger believes that his actions can either be diverted to someone else or that they were necessary.  His killing of Mary was accidental, and he devises a plan to blame Jan.  His killing of Bessie was done out of the belief that she is a liability for him being caught, justifying her killing.  In the end, Bigger cannot escape the fact that the murders are the result of him being in control of articulation, control of his intense emotions, and control of a situation.

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