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Themes

Native Son suggests that we are only partially in control of or responsible for our own actions. In part, the environment in which we are raised creates certain knee-jerk reactions and also presents us with life options. Some people have more options and better options than others.

Questions About Fate and Free Will

  1. How much free will – or freedom of choice – do the characters in Native Son have? Does the amount of choice differ from character to character or does each find his actions determined by social conditions and culture?
  2. What role does society play in determining people’s choices or lack of them, according to Max? Do you agree with his assessment?
  3. Is Bigger fated to kill Mary, given the situation he found himself in? What other choices does Bigger have throughout the book as he faces each new problem?

Chew on This

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

Because of the environment that Bigger grew up in, he lacked free will and was fated to become a criminal.

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