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Themes

Though the protagonist has a mother and two siblings, he believes he’s alone in the world for most of the novel. It takes him being in jail and learning that his infamy has narrowed his little sister’s life opportunities to realize that his actions affect his family. However, the protagonist prefers to separate himself from his family. His family reminds him of his own shame.

Questions About Family

  1. Who is Bigger’s family? How does Bigger define family? How do they act towards each other? Is this a good relationship or a dysfunctional one? Why?
  2. How does Peggy define family and why? Do you think she’s right?
  3. Why does Bigger push his mother, brother, and sister away?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Although Peggy describes working for the Daltons as being part of their family, this is true only for her because she is white; the Daltons’ underlying racism means that Bigger could never be part of the family.

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