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.
There is a very thin line between love and hate in James Baldwin’s essay “Notes of a Native Son.” Throughout this essay James Baldwin continually makes references to life and death, blacks and whites, and love and hate. He uses his small experiences to explain a much larger, more complicated picture of life. From the first paragraph of the essay to the last paragraph, Baldwin continually makes connections on his point of view on life; beginning with the day his father died, to the time that his father was buried. James Baldwin is an outstanding author, who creatively displays his ability to weave narration and analysis throughout his essays.
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.
Baldwin uses the experiences he faced in New Jersey and the personal relationship with his father to show ethos throughout his essay. At one point in his essay, Baldwin finds himself in New Jersey where segregation still exist. “I learned in New Jersey…one was never looked at but was simply at the mercy of the reflexes the color of one’s skin caused in other people” (68). Here Baldwin expresses how circumstances in New Jersey were like at the time, but also portrays the way people were viewed based on the color of their skin. Baldwin later goes on to mention the year he spent in New Jersey, was the year in which “[he] first contracted some dread, chronic disease” (70). This “disease” Baldwin contracted is not an actual disease, but more of a way in which he begins to feel and see the world around him differently. The disease Baldwin is referring to throughout his entire essay is bitterness. Living in New Jersey caused Baldwin to gain the sense of bitterness that his father had lived with during his life. Baldwin’s bitterness comes from the way he was specifically treated in New Jersey and how he allowed that feeling to affect his behaviors. Baldwin specifically mentions the moment in New Jersey where the white waitress approaches him at the restaurant stating, “We don’t serve Negroes here” (71). At this point we begin to see Baldwin as he acts out in violence by stating, “I wanted her to come close enough for me to get her neck
James Baldwin is known to be one of the best essay writers in the twentieth century who wrote on a few topics including race, discrimination, sexuality and most of all his personal experiences. In “Notes of a Native Son”, he uses two main strategies to get his point across. First, he likes to tell a story in a narrative view. Following is normally his analysis of the event. He describes the event and then gives his theory on the matter. By doing this, he grants the reader a chance to decipher the meaning. His interpretation may not be what the reader’s is. He likes to argue and provides the basis for his argument in “Notes of a Native Son”. Throughout the essay he talks about himself and his father,
Baldwin´s extensive use of pathos makes the reader feel emotionally connected to the people and events in the essay. He often times recounts stories from his childhood, which were filled with racism. A noteworthy story was that of Baldwin and the two police officers who gave him ¨gratuitous humiliation¨ (Baldwin, 32). When he was a young teen, Baldwin was pushed down and humiliated by two white police officers, who went as far as to make sexual inferences about him due to his race. Most readers would feel empathy towards him due to it happening at such a young age, which exposed how racist the world still was. He also says, ¨If the concept of God has any
James Baldwin’s short story “Sonny’s Blues” was a great tale of the struggles shared between two brothers in Harlem in 1957. This story is about two African American brothers who, unfortunately, grew apart as the aged. The plot shows the struggles the two brothers faced as they grew up in Harlem, and in return, the two drastically different paths they perused. James Baldwin was an African American who grew up in Harlem in the 1930s and 40s. Baldwin was the oldest of nine children, and grew up in a very poor family, having a very bad relationship with his stepfather. Baldwin followed in his stepfather’s footsteps in becoming a preacher, but as he was studying to do so, he realized that his true calling was to become a writer. Baldwin
In “Notes of a Native Son”, James Baldwin exceptionally conveys the burdens associated with being African American in New Jersey after the departure of his father. The relationship of father and son was negatively impacted by racial discrimination. Baldwin, for example, resisted frequent interactions with his father due to his hatred of the White American Society. However, after the loss of the father, Baldwin explored locations where a waitress denied him service due to the color of his skin, forcing him to convey his exasperation by throwing water on her. Consequently, sparking the same hatred he once despised in his father. As Baldwin matured, he was able to comprehend that his father's spiteful behavior sprung from the limitations blacks
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.
The passage reveals the difficult relationship which Baldwin had with his father. He says “When he died I had been away from home for a little over a year” (222). Baldwin had not been living with his father which caused them to become even more distant from each other. Also, on page 221 he says, “When he was dead I realized that I had hardly ever spoken to him” which shows that the two didn’t like to converse with each other. Baldwin also describes his father as “the most bitter man” and “indescribably cruel” (221). And he uses repetition of the word bitter throughout the essay. His description of his father shows that his father wasn’t a kind father which made their relationship challenging. And also shows that Baldwin had a negative image of his father. This negative image came from the resentment his father held towards people. Furthermore, Baldwin discloses how other family members reacted to his father’s death. He says, “The younger children felt, quite simply, relief that he would not be coming home anymore” (222) this reveals that the father’s death brought liberation for the family. They felt that they had been liberated from the hatred their father had towards whites. They felt
Baldwin's Go Tell it on the Mountain was his first novel, and some would argue that it was his best. Baldwin's
Narrative is a form of writing used by writers to convey their experiences to an audience. James Baldwin is a renowned author for bringing his experience to literature. He grew up Harlem in the 1940’s and 1950’s, a crucial point in history for America due to the escalading conflict between people of different races marked by the race riots of Harlem and Detroit. This environment that Baldwin grew up in inspires and influences him to write the narrative “Notes of a Native Son,” which is based on his experience with racism and the Jim-Crow Laws. The narrative is about his father and his influence on Baldwin’s life, which he analyzes and compares to his own experiences. When Baldwin comes into
Baldwin continues on and says that blacks were being oppressed everywhere. “…Negro girls who set upon a white girl in the subway because…she was stepping on their toes. Indeed she was, all over the nation” (73). Not only does this portray the ever growing tension felt among African Americans in a certain area, it expresses the tension felt across the nation. African Americans everywhere were still continuously looked down upon, causing agitation, which was the current social condition blacks and whites faced.
The second portion of the memoir is recounted through flashback, where Baldwin draws parallels between his father’s life and his own. At some points, Baldwin is conscious of the similarities he shares with his domineering father, such as “the vice of stubborn pride.” He also recognizes the unfortunate inheritance of his father’s “intolerable bitterness of spirit”. However, Baldwin has moments where his rage seems to blind him to the personal characteristics he and his father share. He establishes the extended metaphor of his father’s hatred as a “disease of the mind”. Partly because he never divulges his negative racial experiences to his son,
The second essay, Down at the Cross: Letter From a Region in my Mind, channeled Baldwin’s more in-depth feelings on racial discrimination, political freedom, and his religious journey, which quickly turned into his power, that kept him safe from the criminal streets of Harlem that encompassed gambling, drinking, drug addiction and hopelessness. The title of this essay itself, Down at the Cross, has Christian symbolism. A recurring pivotal them in Baldwin’s (1963) book, was the question asked to Baldwin in both his childhood and adulthood, “Whose little boy are you?” (p.28). He associated this question initially with fear, as he was asked this first as a little boy by pimps and racketeers from the Avenue in Harlem where he grew up. Baldwin (1963) said they suggested that he should