The Purpose of Defending Bigger

Richard Wright’s Native Son portrays the most horrific crimes of Bigger Thomas. The narration of the novel is so gruesome that I had to put down the book multiple times because of how difficult it was to continue reading what had occurred. While it is true that Bigger raped and killed his girlfriend, Bessie, it is unclear if he raped the white character Mary before accidentally killing her. The narrator makes it clear that Bigger was already afraid of bringing the highly intoxicated only daughter of the Dalton family into the house because of the racial differences between them which may lead to unimaginable conclusions. While there is an underlying suggestion that Bigger sexually assaulted Mary bringing her into her room with a moment of osculation and unnecessary groping before her blind mother comes in, that is the only extent to which the interaction went (if we are led to believe the narrator). If this is true, then we must note that this is not rape but sexual assault. In the trial, there was much debate about whether Bigger raped Mary before she died bringing Bessie as an object of evidence that Bigger is capable of such horrendous actions. While this caused a lot of controversy, I continue to believe the narrator’s retelling of the events, mainly because there is no reason to think otherwise. The narrator in any other setting had not misinterpreted the happenings of the plot as they were occurring. So then, why would a lawyer be willing to defend the atrocities of this man? I think this is the point of the novel. If you recall the interrogations of Bigger, you can see how much the legal proceedings were stacked against him. The prosecutor attempted to falsify a different narrative against Bigger: he was the perpetrator behind the killings of six other people, he was a serial killer, he raped more people, but, as we know, THIS DID NOT OCCUR. Bigger was not the mastermind behind other criminal activity, even though the detective said they had evidence and a witness behind the other offenses. I still believe the killing of Mary was an accident. Bigger did not want to get caught bringing Mary into her room, so he covered her face to minimize the noise without noticing he was suffocating her. After this first homicide, it took Bigger into a spiral. I agree that his further actions have no defense, rape is an atrocious thing, but the point of this novel is to outline the injustices against the Black man and the cruelty of the justice system put against each other.