Tag Archives: Bessie

Where’s Bessie?

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.

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Posted by on September 13, 2013 in Native Son


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Book II

Bessie suspects Bigger has murdered Mary Dalton.  Bigger threatens to kill Bessie if she won’t help him.

“You already in it” he said.  “You got part of the money.”
“I reckon it don’t make no difference,” she sighed.
“It’ll be easy.”
“It won’t.  I’ll get caught.  But it don’t make no difference.  I’m lost anyhow.  I was lost when I took up with you.  I’m lost and it don’t matter…”

This scene gave me déjà vu.  It could have been Oliver Twist’s Nancy saying those words to her lover Bill Sikes.

Remember this scene from Dickens’ story?  Just another instance of déjà vu.
Except without the remorse.  Who’d have thought that Sikes had a redeeming quality?  He actually felt guilt for the murder he committed.


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Posted by on September 6, 2013 in Native Son


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Nanny McBessie

What kind of nanny are you, Bessie?  You scold and punish.  You make young Jane do your tidying and cleaning.  In chapter four Jane says she’s tired of being on the receiving end of your “transitory anger.”  Backing up to chapter three Jane gives a thorough description of you.

I remember her as a slim young woman, with black hair, dark eyes, very nice features, and good, clear complexion; but she had a capricious and hasty temper, and indifferent ideas of principle or justice; still, such as she was, I preferred her to any one else at Gateshead Hall.

It seems rather like picking the lesser of three evils: Abbot, Mrs. Reed, and Bessie. 

You must have remembered the preference Jane showed for you because the night before she was to leave for Thornfield, you comes to Lowood (chapter 10).  Why?  To see how Jane turned out in spite of all of you at Gateshead?  Does your mistress know that you made the trip? 

And stranger still… why did you name your daughter Jane?

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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Jane Eyre


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