Bigger Thomas Compared To Erlone

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The Communist and the Colored Bigger Thomas is a walking, living, breathing example of the problems that plagued, and oppressed, blacks in America during that time period. Jan Erlone is a symbol of hope and change. He is naïve in his ideals, but has nothing but optimism. Both of these characters, different as they seem, are actually more alike than they know. In understanding one another, they began to fully understand themselves. Each man needed the other for this self realization to take place. Bigger Thomas was a lost, angry twenty year old living in a racist, 1930s Chicago. His entire life he had been told what he could and could not do by the white man. Where he could live, eat, or work was all dictated by the whites. Bigger has lived his entire life defined by the hatred and fear he has of whites. Bigger and his family are considered the lowest economic and social status a family could have. Racism controls every aspect of Bigger and his family’s life; racism even controlled real estate, and kept blacks impoverished, living in buildings not suitable for humans. The reader is shocked by the very first scene of the novel in which Bigger has to kill a rat in his family’s one bedroom apartment. That rat, unknown at the time, would come to symbolize bigger and his life in white America. Jan Erlone was the young, charismatic boyfriend of Mary Dalton. Jan was a member of the Communist party, and was very hopeful in the ideals the party stood for. Jan was naïve; he did not have a grasp on the African American culture of the time, nor the actual social disparity between the two races. Jan’s intentions were good; he never meant any harm to Bigger. Jan was blinded by his ideals and could not step back from the situation in which he was involved. Jan initially reached out to Bigger, but he and Mary’s attempts left Bigger embarrassed and shameful that he was
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