Essay on Racial Hatred in Notes of a Native Son

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“Notes of a Native Son”: Baldwin’s Essay on the Disease of Racial Hatred

Racism is an ugly word that churns up strong emotions whenever it is mentioned. Shocking images of lynchings, church bombings and race riots creep into the mind, and cause an almost physical reaction of repulsion and disgust. History books and old television clips do a good job of telling the story of racial hatred in America, but not what it actually felt like to be an African American during those times. James Baldwin, a noted African American author from New York in the 1950s and 1960s, knew what it was like to experience years of unrelenting, dehumanizing racial injustice. In his essay, “Notes of a Native Son,” Baldwin uses his literary skills to
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At this point, Baldwin begins a short section of analysis in the second paragraph in which he explains the significance of these events and lets the audience know what impact these events had on him personally. This is one of several transitions that he makes throughout the essay in which the perspective moves from narrative to analytical. With this technique, the author acts like a swimmer in a lake, first looking at what is happening on the surface of the water and then moving beneath the surface to find out what is going on below. Emotions begin to surface as the young man is confronted with an overall feeling of dread for the future, and a deeply rooted fear of the destructiveness of racial hatred that he knows he cannot escape. In Baldwin’s analytical sections throughout the entire essay, the audience is presented with some valuable insights into the obviously strained relationship between father and son. Baldwin goes beneath the surface of his life events, and comes to the emotional realization that a lifelong obsession with racial hatred is what killed his father. Never being able to forget that he was the son of a slave, Baldwin theorizes that it was this smoldering hatred for the white man that was his father’s ultimate undoing. He expands this idea to include a general warning to all African Americans saying that this type of “[h]atred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated and this was an immutable law” (84). Baldwin

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