If Wright’s word-picture of Bessie’s murder wasn’t graphic enough, in Book III, Detective Buckley brings her mangled body back into the story. We learn that she wasn’t dead when Bigger tossed her down the airshaft; she froze to death trying to escape.
It isn’t just Buckley that brings Bessie back into the story. The prosecution actually put her body on display in the courtroom as evidence. It’s almost unbelievable that this would happen. Can you imagine a corpse labeled “exhibit A”?
They were bringing Bessie’s body in now to make the white men and women feel that nothing short of a quick blotting out of his life would make the city safe again. They were using his having killed Bessie to kill him for his having killed Mary, to cast him in a light that would sanction any action taken to destroy him.