Baldwin's Notes of a Native Son Essay

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In My Father’s Eyes

The essay “Notes of a Native Son” takes place at a very volatile time in history. The story was written during a time of hate and discrimination toward African Americans in the United States. James Baldwin, the author of this work is African American himself. His writing, along with his thoughts and ideas were greatly influenced by the events happening at the time. At the beginning of the essay, Baldwin makes a point to mention that it was the summer of 1943 and that race riots were occurring in Detroit. The story itself takes place in Harlem, a predominantly black area experiencing much of the hatred and inequalities that many African-Americans were facing throughout the country. This marks the beginning of a
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It takes him his whole life to grasp the fact that his father was connected to him in many ways. Baldwin’s closest connection to his father was the amount of rage both of them shared regarding many aspects of life.

Baldwin begins the body of his essay by familiarizing the reader with the situation he is currently entangled in. His father has just died and it is the day of his funeral. Baldwin cleverly intertwines other details into this short introduction. He introduces the importance of Life and Death here. He informs the reader that on the same day of his father’s death, his youngest child was born. Life and Death are two very powerful words that employ incredibly symbolic meanings. Life and Death are direct opposites of each other immediately suggesting the distance Baldwin feels from his father at the beginning of the essay. Baldwin connects to the theme of life, because obviously he is the one who is alive, but it isn’t until later that he will realize that he will continue to live through his father. His father connects to the theme of death because he is dead and all of the themes and ideas that surrounded his life have died with him, waiting for someone to carry them on for him. Thus, Baldwin and his father contrast here because they represent the two opposite themes in a person’s life.

These binaries become very
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