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Bigger Thomas is the protagonist of the book.
Institutionalized racism in the United States with respect to discriminatory housing laws and practices, unequal education, unequal justice, and the creation and perpetuation of stereotypes of African American people in the various media. Wright offers this system--this complex set of social and economic circumstances--as the antagonist of his novel.
Bigger kills Mary Dalton, and thereby violates the ultimate taboo of his society while at the same time fulfilling its often repeated prophecy that he will do just that.
The book ends in tragedy. Although Bigger gains self-realization during his trial, he is still sent to his death.