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Bigger's Dream

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Hey: we heart Freud over here, but we're by no means devotees. The guy's theories are riddled with holes. That being said, when we're presented with a dream in literature (especially in literature written post-Freud), we tend to open our dog-eared copies of The Interpretation of Dreams and have a look-see.

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. (Yikes!)

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 people. 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 a mess-up on his part or through a subconscious need to confront his oppressor.

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