"I ain't had no happiness, no nothing."
I was struck by this short passage from Native Son, as Bigger Thomas tries to coerce his girlfriend Bessie into joining his ransom scheme.
"Lord, don't let this happen to me! I ain't done nothing for this to come to me! I just work! I ain't had no happiness, no nothing. I just work. I'm black and I work and don't bother nobody..."
"Go on," Bigger said, nodding his head affirmatively; he knew the truth of all she spoke without her telling it. "Go on and see what that gets you."
Bessie wants to just keep living her life, but Bigger sees that life as futile, and thus pushes forward with a scheme that almost certainly will fail. His resignation and hopelessness are quite unsettling, even more so for the fact that he's unaware of being resigned and hopeless. He thinks he's empowering himself, when all he's actually doing is sealing his own doom.