Baldwin's Effects of Narration and Analysis in Notes of a Native Son

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Baldwin’s Effects of Narration and Analysis in “Notes of a Native Son”

Personal stories and descriptions of major events are narrated throughout James Baldwin’s works as he analyzes the nature of the relationship between white and black America. The marriage of narration and analysis are especially evident in Baldwin’s essay, “Notes of a Native Son.” As Baldwin describes his father and their relationship until his father’s death, he simultaneously comments about the relationship between white and black America. Baldwin compares the events of his experience with concurrent American events to conclude about the nature of his personal relationships and the relationship between races; namely, that one must come to accept the
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Baldwin, however, describes his father as being a very black-like “African tribal chieftain” (64) who was proud of his heritage despite the chains it locked upon him. He is shown to be one with good intentions, but one who never achieved the positive outcome intended. His ultimate downfall was his paranoia such that “the disease of his mind allowed the disease of his body to destroy him” (66). Baldwin relates the story of a white teacher with good intentions and his father’s objection to her involvement in their lives because of his lack of trust for any white woman. His father’s paranoia even extended to Baldwin’s white high school friends. These friends, although they could be kind, “would do anything to keep a Negro down” (68), and they believed that the “best thing to do was to have as little to do with them as possible” (68). Thus, Baldwin leaves the reader with the image of his father as an unreasonable man who struggled to blockade white America from his life and the lives of his children to the greatest extent of his power. Baldwin then turns his story to focus on his own experience in the world his father loathed and on his realization that he was very much like his father.

Baldwin begins his own accounts of life in America with a job he had and lost several
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