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Native Son

Native Son

by Richard Wright

Mr. Boris Max Timeline and Summary

  • Max visits Bigger in prison and convinces Bigger to let him be his lawyer.
  • Max listens to Bigger’s story about how and why he killed Mary and the other events surrounding her death.
  • He figures out quickly that Bigger’s best defense is for the judge to understand the conditions of Bigger’s life, imposed on him by white citizens, and to realize that with no attainable goals in life, there was little left to Bigger but a life of crime. He makes this the cornerstone argument of his defense.
  • Max argues vociferously and logically that Bigger should be sentenced to life in prison instead of being given the death penalty. He suggests that white culture is to blame for creating social conditions that trap black men so that their only choices are living in poverty or turning to crime.
  • Max visits Bigger in prison on the day Bigger will be sent to the electric chair. They talk about how society only works as long as men dream and allow all men to dream.
  • Max listens to Bigger talk about what he’s learned about life and humanity and then he says goodbye (about four times).

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