Native Son…Characters Listed 1

Major Characters

Bigger Thomas
Bigger is a twenty year-old African-American man. He is a petty criminal until he gets a job as a chauffeur for a wealthy white family. He accidentally kills the daughter of the family and ultimately rapes and kills his own girlfriend. He is put on trial for the rape and murder of both women.

Minor Characters

Mrs. Thomas
Bigger’s mother. She is a hard-working woman who places all her hope in her Christian faith to solve the problems of her social and economic situation.

Vera Thomas
Bigger’s younger sister.

Buddy Thomas
Bigger’s younger brother.

Bigger’s friend, with whom Bigger engages in petty crimes.

G. H.
Bigger’s friend, with whom Bigger engages in petty crimes.

Bigger’s friend, with whom Bigger engages in petty crimes.

The housekeeper of the Daltons.

Mr. Dalton
Bigger’s employer who also owns the South Side Real Estate Company which discriminates against African-Americans, forcing them to remain within a prescribed section of the city called the Black Belt. Also, a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). A white liberal.

Mrs. Dalton
Bigger’s employer. She is blind.

Mary Dalton
The daughter of the Daltons, whom Bigger kills.

Jan Erlone
Mary Dalton’s boyfriend and a member of the communist party. Bigger frames him for the murder of Mary Dalton. When he is found to be innocent, he befriends Bigger.

Mr. Britten
A private investigator hired by the Daltons to find their missing daughter, Mary. He is a crude racist and anti-semite.

Bessie Mears
Bigger’s girlfriend. Bigger involves her in the botched attempt to get kidnapping ransom money from the Daltons and then he rapes and kills her.

Boris Max
The defense attorney for Bigger Thomas, also a member of the Communist Party.

David Buckley
The State’s attorney who prosecutes the murder cases against Bigger.

Reverend Hammond
A minister who attempts to convert Bigger before he is put to death.

Justice Hanly
The judge for Bigger’s trial.

Native Son Characters Listed 2

Bigger Thomas

Bigger Thomas, a young African American, frustrated by poverty and race prejudice, who has a pathological hatred of white people. He is reluctantly drawn into alliance with his employer’s daughter Mary and her sweetheart, who are crusading with the communists to help blacks. After an evening of drinking, Bigger carries the drunken Mary to her room. To prevent her from making a sound that will alarm her blind mother, he puts a pillow over her face and accidentally smothers her. This act releases all of his pent-up emotions. He burns the body in the furnace, tries to get ransom money from his employer, and tries to frame the dead girl’s sweetheart. He confesses to his mistress, and after the discovery of the remains, he hides out with her. He fears that she will be found and questioned, however, and so he kills her. The police catch him, and under steady questioning by the prosecuting attorney, he admits his crime. Despite an eloquent plea by his attorney outlining the social structure that made him what he is, Bigger is sentenced to die. While awaiting death, he gets, from talking to his attorney, an understanding that his persecutors are themselves filled with fear and are not responsible for their social crimes.

Mr. Dalton

Mr. Dalton, a wealthy white man for whom Bigger works as a chauffeur.

Mrs. Dalton

Mrs. Dalton, his blind wife.

Mary Dalton

Mary Dalton, their daughter, crusading with the communists against racial discrimination. Bigger accidentally smothers her.

Jan Erlone

Jan Erlone, Mary’s sweetheart and fellow crusader. Bigger succeeds so well in throwing suspicion on him for Mary’s disappearance that Jan is arrested. After Bigger is arrested, Jan comes to see him and promises help. Jan introduces to Bigger a lawyer from the communist-front organization for which Jan works.

Boris A. Max

Boris A. Max, Bigger’s lawyer, provided by a communist-front organization. He argues that society is to blame for Bigger’s crime, but he does not succeed in saving Bigger from death. He is able to show Bigger that his enemies are also driven by fear and must be forgiven.

Bessie Mears

Bessie Mears, Bigger’s mistress, to whom he confides his guilt and whom he kills.


Britten, a detective hired by Dalton to investigate Mary’s disappearance.


Buckley, the prosecuting attorney, under whose questioning Bigger breaks down and signs a confession. He makes full use of anticommunist feeling and race prejudice in prosecuting Bigger.



Regents English Prep Online


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