Essay about Sculptures in James Baldwin's If Beale Street Could Talk

1951 Words8 Pages
In Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself, Douglass describes his overseer as “a man of the most inflexible firmness and stone-like coolness” (Andrews 181). He adds that his mistress’s “tender heart became stone” (Andrews 188). When he first tries to free himself from such people, Douglass ends up “all alone, within the walls of a stone prison” (Andrews 208). Throughout these references, the image of stone is repeatedly linked with the stonehearted and dramatic Caucasian oppression of African-Americans. James Baldwin also includes images of stone and wood in his novel, If Beale Street Could Talk. Stone and wood are often mentioned together and are used for a joint purpose as Fonny, the…show more content…
The first time, Fonny experiences rape in the form of “[a]busive or improper treatment[, as in]…a rape of justice” (“Rape,” def. 3). Although Fonny defends Tish from an attacker at a vegetable stand, Officer Bell says, “We’re going to take you down, boy, for assault and battery” (Baldwin 149). This is improper treatment because the officer tries to arrest Fonny despite Tish’s defense of his actions, and he repeatedly refers to Fonny as “boy” even after Tish points out that “[h]e’s not a boy” (Baldwin 149). When the white Italian woman, who owns the vegetable stand, also defends Fonny’s actions, the officer decides not to arrest him; however, as a result of the officer’s metaphorical rape and taunting parting remarks, Fonny experiences a metaphorical “stone imprisonment.” “[W]ith a dreadful quietness” he tells Tish, “Don’t ever try to protect me again” (Baldwin 151). His defenses are up, and he presents a stony exterior to his girlfriend; he makes her cry although he’s tormented and he knows, “hadn’t been for [her], [his] brains might be spattered all over that precinct basement” (Baldwin 153). He makes it very clear that it’s his role to protect her, but it’s not her role to protect him; likewise, it’s not her role to protect the sculpture that is the metaphorical representation of him. Regardless of

More about Essay about Sculptures in James Baldwin's If Beale Street Could Talk

Open Document