He was not so much in a
stupor, as in the grip of a deep physiological resolution not to react to anything.
look down on with disdain
And regulating his attitude toward death was the fact that he was black, unequal, and
diffusing warmth and friendliness
In speech and manner he lacks the charm of the average, harmless,
genial, grinning southern darky so beloved by the American people.
showing no care or concern in attitude or action
But the brutish Negro seemed
indifferent to his fate, as though inquests, trials, and even the looming certainty of the electric chair held no terror for him.
separate by race or religion
Crimes such as the Bigger Thomas murders could be lessened by
segregating all Negroes in parks, playgrounds, cafes, theatres, and street cars.
money set aside for a specific purpose, as by a legislature
If separate schools were maintained, it would be fairly easy to limit the Negroes’ education by regulating the
appropriation of moneys through city, county, and state legislative bodies.
something immaterial that interferes with action or progress
Still another psychological
deterrent can be attained by conditioning Negroes so that they have to pay deference to the white person with whom they come in contact.
a feeling of deep regret, usually for some misdeed
For the first time in his life a white man became a human being to him; and the reality of Jan’s humanity came in a stab of
remorse: he had killed what this man loved and had hurt him.
come down on or keep down by unjust use of one's authority
This boy comes from an
oppressed people. Even if he’s done wrong, we must take that into consideration.
producing no result or effect
he longed to stop those tears and that anger because he knew that they were
futile, that the people who stood along the wall back of him had the destiny of him and his family in their hands.
proof that someone accused of a crime could not have done it
He proved an
alibi and he’s free.
bring into intimate and incriminating connection
“He didn’t have nothing to do with it,” said Bigger, feeling a keen desire on the man’s part to have him
become of; happen to
What aroused your suspicions that something had
befallen your daughter?
accuse formally of a crime
You’re trying to
indict a race of people and a political party!
motivation deriving from ethical or moral principles
“So, the profits you take from the Thomas family in rents, you give back to them to ease the pain of their gouged lives and to salve the ache of your own
requiring attention or action
“Owing to the peculiar nature of this crime, and owing to the fact that the deceased’s body was all but destroyed, I deem it
imperative that you examine one additional piece of evidence. It will help shed light upon the actual manner of the death of the deceased,” the coroner said.
a confused multitude of things
He looked out upon the world and the people about him with a double vision: one vision pictured death, an image of him, alone, sitting strapped in the electric chair and waiting for the hot current to leap through his body; and the other vision pictured life, an image of himself standing amid throngs of men, lost in the
welter of their lives with the hope of emerging again, different, unafraid.
firm and dependable especially in loyalty
In relation to the Negro’s mental condition, Dr. Calvin H. Robinson, a psychiatric attaché of the police department, declared: “There is no question but that Thomas is more alert mentally and more cagy than we suspect. His attempt to blame the Communists for the murder and kidnap note and his
staunch denial of having raped the white girl indicate that he may be hiding many other crimes.”
“Your Honor,” Max said, “after long and honest
deliberation, I have determined to make a motion in this court to withdraw our plea of not guilty and enter a plea of guilty."
The array of witnesses for the State, the confession made and signed by the defendant himself, and the concrete evidence will reveal the unnatural aspect of this
vile offense against God and man more eloquently than I could ever dare.
lessen or to try to lessen the seriousness or extent of
The counsel for the defense claims, and would have this Court believe, that the mere act of entering a plea of guilty to this indictment should be accepted as evidence
effusively or insincerely emotional
I shall tell them that our courts, swamped with
mawkish sentimentality, are no longer fit instruments to safeguard the public peace!
a partiality preventing objective consideration of an issue
The complex forces of society have isolated here for us a symbol, a test symbol. The
prejudices of men have stained this symbol, like a germ stained for examination under the microscope.
uninterrupted in time and indefinitely long continuing
unremitting hate of men has given us a psychological distance that will enable us to see this tiny social symbol in relation to our whole sick social organism.
do away with
Rather that courts be
abolished and each man buy arms and proceed to protect himself or make war for what he thinks is rightfully his own, than that a man should be tried by men who have already made up their minds that he is guilty.
banish from our minds the thought that this is an unfortunate victim of injustice.
difficult to handle; requiring great tact
Kill him! Burn the life out of him! And still when the
delicate and unconscious machinery of race relations slips, there will be murder again.
the act of giving a false appearance
My job is to show how nonsensical it is to seek revenge on this boy under the
pretense that we are making a great fight for justice.
act of correcting an error or a fault or an evil
But the question may be asked, ‘If this boy thought that he was somehow wronged, why did he not go into a court of law and seek a
redress of his grievances? Why should he take the law into his own hands?’
action taken in return for an injury or offense
This boy’s crime was not an act of
retaliation by an injured man against a person who he thought had injured him.
in opposition to a civil authority or government
Excluded from, and unassimilated in our society, yet longing to gratify impulses akin to our own but denied the objects and channels evolved through long centuries for their socialized expression, every sunrise and sunset makes him guilty of
To send him to prison would be more than an act of mercy. You would be for the first time
conferring life upon him. He would be brought for the first time within the orbit of our civilization. He would have an identity, even though it be but a number.
be characteristic of
This will not solve the problem which this crime
exemplifies. That remains, perhaps, for the future. But if we say that we must kill him, then let us have the courage and honesty to say: ‘Let us kill them all. They are not human. There’s no room for them.’
disposed to seek revenge or intended for revenge
My voice may sound
vindictive when I say: Make the defendant pay the highest penalty for his crimes! But what I am really saying is that the law is sweet when it is enforced and protects a million worthy careers, when it shields the infant, the aged, the helpless, the blind and the sensitive from the ravishing of men who know no law, no self-control, and no sense of reason.
a situation from which extrication is difficult
His mother prevailed upon him, pled with him; but the
plight of his mother, worn out from a life of toil, had no effect upon this hardened black thing.
devouring or craving food in great quantities
Had he begun to feel his duty toward himself and his family? No! Those were not the considerations that drove this
rapacious beast from his den into the open! He consented only when his mother informed him that the relief would cut off their supply of food if he did not accept.
filled with wonder and delight
This newsreel showed Mary Dalton in a bathing suit upon a Florida beach. Jack Harding, a friend of Bigger Thomas, under persistent questioning, admitted that Bigger Thomas was
enthralled by the idea of driving such a girl around the city.
prevent the occurrence of; prevent from happening
He heard the steel door clang shut and he knew that he was alone. He did not stir; he lay still, feeling that by being still he would
stave off feeling and thinking, and that was what he wanted above all right now.
reflect deeply on a subject
When tired of
mulling over his feelings, he would say to himself that it was he who was wrong, that he was no good.
a mild rebuke or criticism
“But sometimes I wish you hadn’t asked me them questions,” Bigger said in a voice that had as much
reproach in it for Max as it had for himself.