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Native Son Essay | Critical Essay #3

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Critical Essay #3

In the following excerpt, Holladay dissects the motivations behind Max and his faulty defense of Bigger Thomas.

Boris Max's speech defending Bigger Thomas in Native Son has been called [by James Baldwin in "Many Thousands Gone," Notes of a Native Son, Dial, 1963] "one of the most desperate performances in American fiction." By the time Max arrives on the scene late in Richard Wright's novel, Bigger has already been sentenced to death by the white mobs who hate and fear him for killing Mary Dalton. We have little reason to expect that Max's oratory will reverse Bigger's apparent fate. Max, however, seems to feel otherwise. Brought into the case by Jan Erlone, Mary's fantastically forgiving boyfriend, Max sees Bigger not as the brutal, apelike murderer portrayed by the prosecutor but as a living symbol of black oppression. His closing speech is a long, impassioned appeal to the judge. But...

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This section contains 3,022 words
(approx. 11 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our Native Son Study Guide
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Native Son from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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