He dropped out of school at the eighth grade, he had been at the reformatory school once for stealing auto tyres. now he keep company of other jobless friends, committing petty crimes
Bigger is limited by the fact that he has only
completed the eighth grade, and by the racist real estate practices that force him to live in poverty. Furthermore, he is subjected to endless bombardment from a popular culture that portrays whites as sophisticated and blacks as either subservient or savage. Indeed, racism has severely curtailed Bigger’s prospects in life and even his very conception of himself. He is ashamed of his family’s poverty and afraid of the whites who control his life—feelings he works hard to keep hidden, even from himself. When these feelings overwhelm him, he reacts with violence. Bigger commits crimes with his friends —though only against other blacks, as the group is too frightened to rob a white man—but his own violence is often directed at these friends as well. Bigger feels little guilt after he accidentally kills Mary. In fact, he feels for the first time as though his life actually has meaning. Mary’s murder makes him believe that he has the power to assert himself against whites. Wright goes out of his way to emphasize that Bigger is not a conventional hero, as his brutality and capacity for violence are extremely disturbing, especially in graphic scenes such as the one in which he decapitates Mary’s corpse in order to stuff it into the furnace. Wright does not present Bigger as a hero to admire, but as a frightening and upsetting figure created by racism. Indeed, Wright’s point is that Bigger becomes a brutal killer precisely because the dominant white culture fears that he will become a brutal killer. By confirming whites’ fears, Bigger contributes to the cycle of racism in America. Only after he meets Max and learns to talk through his problems does Bigger begin to redeem himself, recognizing whites as individuals for the first time and realizing the extent to which he has been stunted by racism. Bigger’s progress is cut short, however, by his execution.