by Richard Wright
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
After being questioned by Britten, Bigger has a dream where he’s running away after being warned by a tolling church bell. He’s carrying a heavy package. This whole scene is bathed in a red glare, the glow from the furnace’s light. When he stops to unwrap the package, he finds his own severed head inside and his hair thick with blood. He starts to run to find a place to hide. Instead, he runs into some white people who want to ask him about the head. He’s standing there with blood on his hands. Finally, he gives up. He curses them and throws the head right into their faces. The dream symbolizes Bigger’s guilt, as well as the growing sense that he’s going to face another confrontation with white folks. Most importantly, it symbolizes his impending doom. We already know that Bigger can’t outsmart the people around him forever; the question is only when and how he’ll be caught. The dream foreshadows his demise but it also answers the question how he’ll be caught: ultimately, Bigger will hand over his own head to those seeking answers, whether through stupidity or through a subconscious need to confront his oppressor.