Essay about Baldwin's Notes to a Native Son

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“If the relationship of father to son could really be reduced to biology, the whole earth would blaze with the glory of fathers and sons.” This quotation by James Arthur Baldwin helps to bring about one of the main points of his essay, “Notes of a Native Son.” Baldwin’s composition was published in 1955, and based mostly around the World War II era. This essay was written about a decade after his father’s death, and it reflected back on his relationship with his father. At points in the essay, Baldwin expressed hatred, love, contempt, and pride for his father, and Baldwin broke down this truly complex relationship in his analysis. In order to do this, he wrote the essay as if he were in the past, still with his father,…show more content…
Here Baldwin connected the death and violence of the civil rights riots and his father’s death, to the destruction of pride in his father and himself. Baldwin admitted throughout the essay that he had hatred for his father. The ideas of hatred and apocalypse are repeated in this paragraph. The repetition of these evil words showed the relationship between the end of two worlds that affected Baldwin. Baldwin felt that his father left him with the world around him crumbling and his own world as well. Baldwin used the central idea of death to tie together the two ideas of the riots and his father’s death. The idea of relating public and private events in Baldwin’s own experiences is instituted later in the essay in order to transition from narrative to analysis. Baldwin started telling a story about when he lived in New Jersey before the time of his father’s death. He talked about his personal treatment by white people in the south, a first hand account of the racism of that particular era. He learned of the hostility of the Jim Crow Laws inflicted on African Americans during that time period. His story was analogous to nearly all African Americans at that point. When Baldwin lived in New Jersey, he became exposed to the racism of the south that occurred in restaurants and diners. During one of those experiences he wrote, “I
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