James Baldwin's Writing Technique Essay

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The Baldwin Technique

James Baldwin is highly regarded as one of the great writers of his time. In the “Notes of a Native Son” he describes a very influential moment in his life. The essay’s setting takes place during the Harlem riots in New York City and Detroit. The riot in New York all began due the fatal shooting of a young African American boy by a white police officer. Protesters began to protest the police brutality, but then fights and looting broke out when some protesters became unruly. Baldwin’s essay reflects upon his interactions and feelings with and about his father. He analyzes how his father affected him and talks about what kind of person his father was. He also reflects on the impact of his father’s death. All the
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(71) Baldwin said this as a result of his altercation with white waitress in a restaurant who refused to serve him. This hatred and ill feeling that he felt was very similar to the feelings that the rioters felt toward the police and their acts of unnecessary brutality. Baldwin mentions the riots through out the story because he, himself, can associate with them. The feelings that the rioters had against the police were similar to the feelings that Baldwin had toward white people and his father. So in essence, Baldwin uses the public events that are going on in order to compare to what is going on in his own private life. The rioters and police recapitulate the association that Baldwin had with his father.

The conflict that the rioters and the police shared were quite similar to the relationship that Baldwin and his father had. In a way, he is also constructing a type of connection between the riots and his relationship with himself and his father. This is an example of how Baldwin utilizes binaries. When reading Baldwin’s literature, one can come to the conclusion that Baldwin’s counterparts need one another in order to live, so to speak. In the Harlem riots the police needed to show acts of brutality in order for the black people to become angered. If the police never had started any acts of brutality then the rioters would not exist. They would have no reason to protest. Therefore if the police