The Last Straw

It is often funny to compare the sayings and parenting styles of different parents, especially those from different cultural backgrounds. However, there can be cycles of abuse and negative comparisons that can be harmful more than hurtful. One of the last lingering thoughts I have about Native Son, is Wright giving us two different perspectives of motherhood through the lens of a Black mother and a white mother. We discussed in class the idea of hysteria and how it was “treated” in women who were emotional. We also discussed Wright’s writing of black women being degrading and, in simple terms, horrible, and I believe both of these things play a role into the way he wrote Bigger’s mother, and Mrs. Dalton and the perceived upbringing of Black children. 

There are several instances of Wright showing that Bigger’s mother is what he believes to be a bad mom, and the opposite for Mrs. Dalton. One of the easiest differences to spot is the naming. Bigger’s mother is not given a name by Wright. He calls her “his mother,” “the mother,” and even writes, “The black woman sobbed,” (Wright 302). On the other hand, Mary’s mother is named right when we meet her, Mrs. Dalton. She is painted as all white, and even though she is blind, she is written to see everything and even as a white person who helps Black people see themselves. She is even praying over Mary when she comes home drunk (Wright 86). In the third book, we see Bigger’s mother beg Mrs. Dalton to help her son, even though he killed her daughter and Mrs. Dalton pats her head in a weird pet way. I think this is another thing that has really made me feel negatively towards the novel. I think that Wright has tried very hard to show that he holds white women on a higher pedestal, and even after reading Baldwin’s criticisms, this is the thing that bothers me the most.