What is the section "Flight" all about?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Flight" describes the immediate aftermath of Mary Dalton's murder. 

In a state of panic after accidentally killing Mary, Bigger tries to cover up his tracks, weaving a complicated web of lies for his family and acquaintances, and implicating Jan and the Communists in her disappearance.  He sends a ransom note to Mr. Dalton, but when reporters find bits of human bone and Mary's earring in the Dalton basement incinerator, Bigger aborts the ransom plan and flees with his gun to Bessie's house.  Bigger and Bessie hide together in an abandoned building, and eventually, fearing that Bessie will turn him in to the authorities, he rapes and kills her, dumping her body down an airshaft.  He continues desperately to evade the law, but at the end of the section he is finally captured in a huge police dragnet.

sagetrieb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The “Flight” section includes many images of enclosure as well as white—the white snow blanketing the city symbolizes the white society that surrounds him and that he cannot escape. The flight is from law but also from his conscience and from himself, for in cutting off Mary’s head and burning her he is symbolically decapitating white society, symbolized in the most humiliating way by white assumptions about black men in regard to white women.  The movie version includes flashes of a rat running aimlessly around a tunnel, trying to escape but impossible to do so, and this seems a good visual interpretation of Bigger’s situation.  He is fleeing but he is simultaneously trapped.

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Native Son

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