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Character Roles (Protagonist, Antagonist...)
Tools of Characterization
Mr. Boris Max
Mr. Henry Dalton
Table of Contents
AP English Language
AP English Literature
SAT Test Prep
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Native Son Characters
Meet the Cast
Twenty years old at the start of the novel, Wright’s protagonist Bigger Thomas lives a life so small, it’s claustrophobic. At the opening of the novel, Bigger makes his living through p...
Mr. Boris Max
Like Bigger, Max feels a deep sense of exclusion from American society. As a Jew and a Communist, he suffers in myriad ways because American society is dictated by the prejudices of the majority. P...
Jan Erlone is Mary’s boyfriend, a Communist, and a union organizer. Aside from Bigger, Jan is the character who gains the most self-knowledge in the course of the novel. Though he wants to fi...
Mary Dalton, the only daughter of a wealthy capitalist in Chicago, rebels the only way she knows how: she starts dating a Communist. Her attempts to break free from her family’s wealth lead h...
Bessie, Bigger’s girlfriend, works so hard that all she wants on her day off is to get drunk. Bigger wants a little loving and she’s willing to exchange sex for liquor money. This is th...
Mrs. Dalton is a wealthy blind woman who takes a great interest in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and encourages her husband to be generous with their wealth...
Mr. Henry Dalton
Mr. Dalton, Bigger’s employer, positions himself as a liberal, progressive white citizen of Chicago. In reality, one could argue that he is racist. He fails to recognize how he actively explo...
Bigger’s mother nags him all the time. She won’t leave Bigger alone about the job, no matter how many times he says he’s going to take it. She’s a deeply religious woman and...
Peggy is the Daltons’ bustling Irish housekeeper. She clearly believes part of her job is to instruct Bigger and remind him to fulfill his duties. She believes the Daltons have been great ben...
Buddy is Bigger’s loyal little brother, who wants to be just like Bigger.
Bigger’s little sister, Vera, lives with the same kind of fear and shame that Bigger suffers. Though Vera’s behavior frequently annoys Bigger, when he hears that his little sister had t...
Buckley, the State’s Attorney, uses devious tactics to gain a confession from Bigger. Despite the fact that Bigger pleads guilty, Buckley calls all individuals connected with the case in any...
Hired by Mr. Dalton to investigate his daughter’s disappearance, Britten is prejudiced against both blacks and Communists. Initially suspicious of Jan Erlone, he quickly believes that Jan and...
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