Monday, August 19, 2019

Notes of a Native Son Essay -- James Baldwin

Everyone Likes a Good Story By nature, human beings like stories. Sea captains tell of ferocious storms, travelers describe exotic places, friends recall good times spent together, and people listen. Thoughts are a different issue- fewer people will listen because there is simply less to get excited about, especially if the listener can?t relate. James Baldwin, author of many novels and essays, including ?Notes of a Native Son,? has many thoughts to share, and keeps the reader interested while he shares them. Baldwin carries the reader through ?Notes? by telling stories of his own life, and shares his thoughts about being a black man along the way. Baldwin?s use of stories not only keeps the reader interested in the essay, but also lets the reader know where Baldwin is coming from, which makes his points much more understandable. ?Notes? is an essay centered on the death and funeral of Baldwin?s father in 1943, but most of the points Baldwin makes throughout the essay are about being a black man living in the United States during this time, when racial tensions were very strong. In ?Notes,? Baldwin gives the reader first hand accounts of these tensions, including one time he was almost killed. Baldwin had been living in New Jersey for a year, where he ?learned ? that to be Negro meant, precisely, that one ? was simply at the mercy of the reflexes the color of one?s skin caused in other people? (68). It was in New Jersey that Baldwin truly learned how white people mistreated black people. On his last night there, he went to a movie with a white friend, and afterwards tried to order some food at a diner. When he was told, ?We don?t serve Negroes here,? (70) his pent up rage took over and he returned to the street... ...anged from disliking him to wishing he were still around to help him with the problems of white treatment of blacks he was just now realizing existed. Although his father warned him of these problems, Baldwin had to experience them to believe him. Because the reader cannot experience many of the events that led to Baldwin?s current beliefs, his first hand accounts are the next best thing. These stories make Baldwin?s points more credible in the reader?s mind, just as his father?s points became more credible in Baldwin?s mind after he experienced what his father was warning him about first hand. This credibility from experience is how Baldwin reaches us in the same way his father eventually reached him. Works Cited Baldwin, James. ?Notes of a Native Son.? 1955. James Baldwin: Collected Essays. Ed. Toni Morrison. New York: Library of America, 1998. 63-84.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

35 Things to Do for Your Career by 35

35 Things to Do for Your Career by 35 With the average life expectancy being 70 years for men and 74 years for women, it would be good ...