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The Wooden Cross

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

For the Reverend Hammond, the cross represents life. The wood is carved from a tree, which represents the world; and on the cross is a suffering man. Reverend Hammond believes that life is suffering. The cross is also a Christian symbol of grace and forgiveness, representing Christ’s sacrifice for all of mankind’s sin. However, the symbol is turned upside down when Bigger is brought out from the Dalton’s house to confront a mob that wants nothing more than to lynch him. Somebody in the mob is burning a cross. The Ku Klux Klan cross is a symbol of racism, hate, and vengeance to Bigger. While the KKK cross incites Bigger to rebellion and the desire to kill, the preacher’s cross makes him submissive and weak. This could suggest that the power of redemption as exemplified in the symbol of the Christian cross can transform souls, whereas the bigotry and hatred as exemplified in the symbol of the Ku Klux Klan cross creates anger.

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