Native Son

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Mrs. Dalton Character Analysis

Mrs. Dalton, like her husband Henry, believes that the Dalton family is helping African Americans in Chicago by offering them jobs and by donating to charities in the Black Belt. Mrs. Dalton’s physical blindness—she has been blind for ten years—is a counterpart to what Bigger and Max consider to be her metaphorical “blindness” toward the plight of African Americans in Chicago.

Mrs. Dalton Quotes in Native Son

The Native Son quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Dalton or refer to Mrs. Dalton. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harper Perennial edition of Native Son published in 1993.
Book 2 Quotes

Listen, I just felt around in Mary’s room. Something’s wrong. She didn’t finish packing her trunk. At least half of her things are still there. She said she was planning to go to some dances in Detroit and she didn’t take the new things she bought.

Related Characters: Mrs. Dalton (speaker), Mary Dalton
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:

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Mrs. Dalton Character Timeline in Native Son

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Dalton appears in Native Son. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...prepared by Ma, and Ma reminds Bigger that he has an appointment with a Mr. Dalton that evening at 5:30, about a job. Ma reminds Bigger that this job would provide... (full context)
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...reminds Bigger, once again, that it is very important Bigger take the job with Mr. Dalton, as the family needs the money. Bigger curses Vera under his breath as Vera walks... (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...news reel, depicting a Chicago heiress in Florida and her young lover—the heiress is Mary Dalton, daughter of Mr. Dalton, the man with whom Bigger is to interview later that day;... (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...to grow dark outside; she says it is time for him to walk to the Daltons’ house in Hyde Park, near Bigger’s “Black Belt” neighborhood, but in the “white” section of... (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
Bigger walks up to the Daltons’ house and, not knowing where the “service” or back entrance is located, decides, nervously, to... (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...to sit and make himself comfortable, but Bigger is nervous around Henry, calling him “Mr. Dalton, sir”; Bigger’s nervousness, additionally, frustrates Bigger, as he is not sure why he is so... (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...apartment owned by the South Side Real Estate Company—a company owned, in turn, by the Daltons. Bigger will sleep in a small room in the Daltons’ home; his meals will be... (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
Peggy tells Bigger more about the Dalton family as he eats bacon and eggs in the kitchen, after Henry has left—Bigger has... (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Bigger lies on his new bed in the Dalton house for a moment, and thinks about the things, including a gold watch, he’ll be... (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
...a Loop train back to his apartment, and Bigger and Mary drive back to the Daltons’ house. When they arrive, Bigger parks the Buick in front of, but not inside, the... (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
Bigger hears a sound as he lies atop Mary in Mary’s bedroom—it is Mrs. Dalton, who has heard the commotion on the stairs and who has come to Mary’s room... (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
Mrs. Dalton walks over to Mary, smells the rum on her body, and, remarking that she’s “drunk,”... (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...is to blame the murder on Jan, whom he can say came back to the Daltons’ house (instead of being dropped off, as he was, downtown near the park); Bigger can... (full context)
Book 2
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
...and stuffed her body in a furnace; the events of the previous night, at the Dalton house, were real. He quickly realizes that, although the rest of his family is still... (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
Walking back to the Daltons’, Bigger stops off in a drugstore, where he finds G.H. at the soda counter. Bigger... (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
On the tram-ride to the Daltons’, Bigger thinks about the possibility, however improbable it might seem, of a large group of... (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
Bigger’s musings are cut short by the end of his tram-ride; he arrives at the Dalton house, and, entering, is wished good morning by Peggy, who tells Bigger that he ought... (full context)
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...day; Bigger says that he has not, and Peggy, not knowing how Mr. and Mrs. Dalton will react when they wake up, tells Bigger to take Mary’s trunk down to the... (full context)
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
When he returns to the Daltons’ house, Bigger is asked by Peggy if he’d like any breakfast; he has no appetite,... (full context)
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Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
Bigger, in his room, hears Mrs. Dalton and Peggy talking in the hall; he goes into a closet in his bedroom, from... (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
But Mrs. Dalton responds that Mary was in her room at two a.m. the night before—when Mrs. Dalton... (full context)
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Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
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Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
Some time passes, which Bigger spends dozing in his room. Mrs. Dalton has Peggy ring for Bigger; Bigger hears it on the third ring, and Mrs. Dalton... (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...the idea that he might have pretended to kidnap Mary to extort more from the Daltons. (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...from Mary’s purse, making it seem like the money was given to him by the Daltons; he promises to be sweet to Bessie from now on, and says that she can... (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...tells her he’ll meet with her the following night. On his walk back to the Daltons’ house, Bigger thinks on the “blindness” he has seen, from Bessie to his mother to... (full context)
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...he, Bigger, can see, makes Bigger feel proud of his own strength. He reaches the Daltons’ house, and runs into Peggy, who tells Bigger that Mrs. Dalton wants him to pick... (full context)
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
Mr. and Mrs. Dalton come down to the kitchen to speak with Bigger before he leaves to pick up... (full context)
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Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
Bigger goes to the train station, picks up the trunk, and returns to the Dalton house. He thinks, en route, that he will have to “fasten” his story straight in... (full context)
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...the time to go into more detail with his story, in order to convince the Daltons and the authorities that Jan is responsible for Mary’s disappearance. Bigger tells the story of... (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...only following orders the previous night, the first night of his new job at the Daltons’ house. Henry seems convinced by Bigger’s innocence—by the idea that Bigger is as scared of... (full context)
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Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
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Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
Bigger goes back up to his room and hears Mr. Dalton and Britten talking in the kitchen. Dalton defends Bigger, in his typically paternalistic way, saying... (full context)
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
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Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...being called from below. When he arises, he answers the door to find Jan, Mr. Dalton, and Britten wanting to speak with him. The three come into Bigger’s room. Britten asks... (full context)
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...although he gave Bigger some Communist literature, he, Jan, did not come back to the Daltons’, nor did he tell Bigger to do anything with Mary’s trunk. Jan wonders, genuinely, who... (full context)
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...the house, Jan runs into Bigger, who has gone down the staircase (Britten and Mr. Dalton have already left Bigger’s room to discuss matters further); Jan asks Bigger, again, why Bigger... (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...an envelope, then rides the tram-car to Bessie’s apartment, remarking along the way that Mr. Dalton’s company owns the apartment house in which Bigger was raised, and probably the one where... (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...scout locations for an abandoned apartment, wherein Bessie can wait, the following night, for the Dalton family’s drop-off of the ten thousand dollars. (full context)
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...he will see her soon. Bigger walks through the snowy, cold night back to the Daltons’ house, where he goes up to the front door furtively and drops the ransom note,... (full context)
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Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...and set it on the table in the kitchen—Bigger eyes the envelope nervously, until Mr. Dalton comes in and takes it away. While Peggy tells Bigger that he should be up... (full context)
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
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Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
Mr. Dalton comes downstairs, however, and announces that he would like to make a statement after all... (full context)
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Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
The reporters ask if the Daltons plan on paying the ransom, and Henry replies that he will, and will follow the... (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...to Bigger. Bigger tells the reporters that he really can’t say anything more than Mr. Dalton has just told them, and during their conversation, another reporter, who has gone upstairs to... (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...will happen to him if he’s free to walk around; other reporters, however, believe Mr. Dalton’s hunch, that Jan has nothing to do with the kidnapping. Some of the reporters ask... (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...that the reporters found her body in the furnace; that he ran away from the Dalton house and will be hunted by the police; that he only has 90 dollars left,... (full context)
Book 3
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...is led by police to the Cook County Morgue, where he spots Mr. and Mrs. Dalton and Jan, though Bigger cannot speak to them—he is nearly in a daze, and has... (full context)
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Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
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Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
At this, Mr. and Mrs. Dalton enter the cell, too. Buckley goes to them and wishes them his condolences for their... (full context)
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Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
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Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...prays loudly for Bigger’s soul. On their way out of the cell, Ma asks Mrs. Dalton, who has been standing in the corner with her husband, not to have the authorities... (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
Crime and Justice Theme Icon
Anger and Charity Theme Icon
Death, Life’s Purpose, and the Will to Live Theme Icon
...hearing in which “facts regarding the case” are established. This will require members of the Dalton family to testify; Bigger looks on as Mrs. Dalton is sworn in and handed a... (full context)
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Capitalism and Communism Theme Icon
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...questions being asked; Jan is told to sit down, and the deputy coroner calls Henry Dalton to testify. (full context)
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The deputy coroner quickly asks Mr. Dalton a few questions about the nature of his charitable work in the African American community... (full context)
Whiteness, Blackness, and Racism Theme Icon
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...him a “black ape.” Bigger is then taken quickly by the authorities back to the Dalton house, where the police ask him, once he is taken out of the car, to... (full context)
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On his way out of the Dalton house, once again led by police with weapons drawn, Bigger is spat on by a... (full context)
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...Bigger’s gang. A small girl even climbs inside a mock-up of the furnace in the Dalton home, to show to the jury that Bigger could indeed have fit and burned Mary’s... (full context)