Chicago in the 1930's was split into two opposing views of life: the raw, tough life in the Black Belt of Chicago's south side ghetto and the awe astounding world of the distant white realm. These stark distinctions from the two dictate the ways in which Bigger Thomas conducts his behavior and personality. Richard Wright's implementation of setting within Bigger's existence plays an instrumentive role in portraying how society shapes one's personality in his novel Native Son.
Bigger's own home is estranged for the young man who feels out of place and unwanted. Although "he [hates] his family, [it is] because he knows that they are suffering and that he is powerless to help them," (13) his pride in his own self worth, is never more present then when he is around his family. He considers himself better than them; why should he have to go work just to grovel like them? Why should he have to go to church just to make himself feel happy? What is the use? Although "he knows that his mother is waiting for him to give an account of himself and he [hates] her for that" (96) and although feeling superior to that of his mother, the continual presence of her authority weighs on him everywhere he goes. The lack of freedom he enjoys is parallel to that of the restrictions that are placed on him by society and no matter where he turns, he is faced with restrictions. Even after playing a simple prank on his sister, his mother reacts by declaring, "'Bigger sometimes I wonder why I birthed you'"(11) adding to the already seemingly broken man. This obvious show of misunderstanding is that of which Bigger is forced to deal with his whole life. And all that Bigger wants to do is "to merge himself with others and be a part of this world, to lose himself in it so he could find himself, to be allowed a chance to live like others, even though he was black" (226) and not have to continue being the black boy who is expected to conform to the accepted black stereotype.