Richard Wright's novel, Native Son, consisted of various main and supporting characters to deliver an effective array of personalities and expression. Each character's action defines their individual personalities and belief systems. The main character of Native Son, Bigger Thomas has personality traits spanning various aspects of human nature including actions motivated by fear, quick temper, and a high degree of intelligence. .
Bigger, whom the novel revolves around, portrays various personality elements through his actions. Many of his actions suggest an overriding response to fear, which stems from his exposure to a harsh social climate in which a clear line between acceptable behavior for whites and black's exists. His swift anger and his destructive impulses stem from that fear and become apparent in the opening scene when he fiercely attacks a huge rat. The same murderous impulse appears when his secret dread of the delicatessen robbery impels him to commit a vicious assault on his friend Gus. Bigger commits both of the brutal murders not in rage or anger, but as a reaction to fear. His typical fear stems from being caught in the act of doing something socially unacceptable and being the subject of punishment. Although he later admits to Max that Mary Dalton's behavior toward him made him hate her, it is not hate which causes him to smother her to death, but a feeble attempt to evade the detection of her mother. The fear of being caught with a white woman overwhelmed his common sense and dictated his actions. When he attempted to murder Bessie, his motivation came from intense fear of the consequences of "letting" her live. Bigger realized that he could not take Bessie with him or leave her behind and concluded that killing her could provide her only "merciful" end. The emotional forces that drive Bigger are conveyed by means other than his words. Besides reactions to fear, his actions demonstrate an extremely quick temper and destructive impulse as an integral part of his nature.