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Native Son

Native Son


by Richard Wright

Jan Erlone Timeline and Summary

  • Jan emerges from a building with Mary and comes over to meet Bigger. He tells Bigger to call him "Jan."
  • He gets in the driver’s seat and Bigger slides over to the middle, while Mary gets in the passenger’s seat. They ask Bigger to take them to a real restaurant on the South Side and off they go.
  • As they drive, Jan points out apartments like the kind Bigger lives in and talks about how mysterious black people are to him.
  • At the restaurant, Jan plies Bigger with liquor, then questions him about his life. He gives Bigger some Communist pamphlets to read later.
  • Bigger drives the two of them around while Jan and Mary make out in the back seat.
  • Jan says goodnight to Bigger and Mary.
  • Jan calls the Dalton house the next morning to find out if Mary’s made it off safely to Detroit.
  • Bigger implicates Jan in Mary’s disappearance, so Britten brings Jan to the Daltons’ house to question the two of them together.
  • Jan wonders why Bigger is lying about him being in the house the night before and asks if Mr. Dalton paid Bigger to lie.
  • When Mr. Dalton offers Jan money just to bring Mary back safely, Jan starts to swear, then walks off.
  • Jan confronts Bigger again on the street, asking him why he lied. Bigger gets angry and waves a gun in his face, so Jan lets him go.
  • Jan is arrested in connection with Mary’s disappearance and possible kidnapping. When they release him, because there’s no evidence that Jan is involved, he refuses to leave.
  • Jan comes to visit Bigger in jail and brings a lawyer with him. He says he finally understands how Bigger felt and why he killed Mary. He’d like to be Bigger’s friend, he says, and he hopes that Bigger will accept Max as his lawyer.
  • Jan converses with the Reverend and tells him that yes, Bigger needs acceptance – but he needs to fight for it.
  • Jan is called to the stand to testify about what happened the night Mary died. He tells the truth and helps Bigger to realize that he is, indeed, a friend.