Essays over notes of a native son

Two of these publications are Samuel E. Cornish's Freedom's Journal and Frederick Douglass 's North Star, which are established as venues in which to discuss slavery. Two of the oldest are the Philadelphia Tribune and the Chicago Defender. Today: As newsrooms at formerly all-white newspapers are integrated, many of the most talented African-American journalists join major newspapers, thus leaving the traditional all-black newspapers drained of talent.

Many of the African-American newspapers disappear. However, magazines published with an African-American audience in mind flourish. The atmosphere in Harlem nurtures pioneering intellectual thought, and the arts prosper. Harlem, although it remains a haven for black artists, suffers from an infant mortality rate that is double that of the rest of the city. Today: Harlem experiences a slow economic renaissance as rental rates in the rest of the city soar and the white population moves into the area and begins to renovate the old buildings.

The presence of former President Bill Clinton 's office in Harlem stimulates the increased interest. The few parts that African Americans do fill are written to reflect simplemindedness, providing the movie with comic relief. Today: Spike Lee , an African American who writes, directs, and acts in his movies, gains a wide audience appeal despite the themes of his movies, which often reflect the harsh realities of racial prejudice that still exist in the United States.

There were also many positive outcomes in Harlem as witnessed by the talent that developed in that part of New York City. Many famous African-American artists started out in Harlem. Notes of a Native Son , when first published in , did not sell well. However, when it was reissued in paperback form in , after the publication of Baldwin's Giovanni's Room , it received outstanding reviews and brisk sales and would go on to become one of the most popular of all Baldwin's works.

An example of the praise that Baldwin received for Notes of a Native Son comes from Baldwin's biographer Leeming, who writes, "With the publication of Notes of a Native Son, Baldwin staked a large claim in an area of American literary territory inhabited by such masters of the essay and autobiography as Ralph Waldo Emerson , Henry David Thoreau , and Frederick Douglass.

Like Emerson … his major thrust is not to impart abstract or concrete knowledge, but to provoke humane thought and announce eternal truths intended to elevate the consciousness of the reader from animal passion to spiritual or philosophical contemplation. James Baldwin writes down to nobody, and he is trying very hard to write up to himself. As an essayist he is thought-provoking, tantalizing, irritating, abusing and amusing.

And he uses words as the sea uses waves, to flow and beat, advance and retreat, rise and take a bow in disappearing. Hughes believed that there were few writers in America who could "handle words more effectively in the essay" than Baldwin. Hughes adds: "In his essays, words and material suit each other. The thought becomes poetry, and the poetry illuminates the thought. James Campbell wrote Talking at the Gates: A Life of James Baldwin, in which he praises Baldwin's gift as essayist, a type of writing in which Baldwin was best able to display his intellect.

Notes of a Native Son unharnesses his gift for autobiographical rumination, his willingness to force his way into new and awkward challenges. The greatest challenge of all was to be free to set his own terms for the course of his life. The essay was the place to do it, and the didactic process is laid out in the pages of Notes of a Native Son. Hart is a published writer and freelance editor. In this essay, Hart examines the process of revelation that Baldwin experiences in his titled essay. Baldwin begins the title essay in Notes of a Native Son with a statement of death and birth.

He mentions that his father died on the same day that his father's last child was born. This theme of death and birth also works itself out on a larger scale, eventually encompassing the entire essay. By the end, while sitting at his father's funeral, Baldwin is able to see his father in a different light, one that includes both his negative and positive characteristics. In doing so, Baldwin is also able to see himself more clearly.

By examining his relationship with his father, Baldwin experiences several revelations, which culminate in a type of symbolic death and spiritual rebirth by the end of the essay. In laying out the details of his relationship with his father, Baldwin presents many examples of how he is both similar to his father and different from him.

Thoughts On James Baldwin's Notes of A Native Son

Sometimes Baldwin is very conscious of the differences. At other times, he seems oblivious to the differences, or maybe he just does not want to see them. For instance, at one stage in the essay, he points out that he had not gotten along very well with his father because they shared "the vice of stubborn pride.

He also admits that his father's "intolerable bitterness of spirit" had unfortunately been handed down to him. However, there are other moments when Baldwin's rage and even a kind of paranoid madness descend upon him, possibly blinding him to the personal characteristics that he and his father share.

He moves back and forth, throughout most of the essay, at times freely drawing parallels, at other times trying desperately to gain distance. The strength of the piece, however, is in his final resolution in which he comes to grips with his father's emotions as well as his own.

In the end, he is able to separate himself from his father and yet still cherish in a place in his heart the fact that he and his father will be forever joined. Sometimes Baldwin's connection to his father comes to him slowly. At first, he might not relate to some of his father's traits, such as when he flashes back to memories of his childhood; but then, after Baldwin has a later experience that sheds light on his father's beliefs, Baldwin gains a better understanding. For instance, he writes about his father's dislike of, and impatience with, white people.

She builds a relationship with Baldwin and his family, nurturing his talents and encouraging him to write. His father has trouble accepting this white woman in his home. He is suspicious of her. Baldwin, at that time, understood the power this teacher had. She could open up the world a little wider for him.

He used her power to help him get out from under the oppressive nature of his father. At the time, he felt that his father was completely off-base in his fear of white people. Throughout high school, Baldwin makes friends with white students. He is able to accept them in spite of his father's warnings that they are not to be trusted. Much later, however, after Baldwin has spent years dismissing his father's warnings about white people and how they will "do anything to keep a Negro down," Baldwin leaves home. He had spent his earlier years in Harlem, where the population was mostly black.

When he leaves home, he lands a job in a defense factory in New Jersey , where black people were, at that time, in a small minority. Not only are the people with whom he works white, they are southern whites, people who are used to demanding very specific behaviors from black people. Baldwin has already admitted that he has a stubborn pride, so he is not one to humble himself easily simply because of the color of his skin. Slowly but surely, the racist attitude of this white population wears away Baldwin's confidence. At first, he tries to ignore it, but in a fit of rage one night, he becomes so blinded with hate that he believes he could have killed someone.

He never mentions that his father ever had such thoughts, but he does portray his father as someone who was "locked up in his terrors; hating and fearing every living soul. It is as if, through their mutual rage, they are drawn together; through their now mutual distrust of white people, Baldwin has discovered a common language. If his father was right about white people, maybe he was right about other things, too.

This marks the beginning of Baldwin's revelation. It is during this time that Baldwin's father is diagnosed as suffering from paranoia. Baldwin does not ever mention this mental illness on a personal basis; that is to say, he never implies that he ever feels paranoid, but he does describe some of his thoughts that could possibly be interpreted as paranoid. For instance, he writes that during that year when he lived in New Jersey, he felt as if he had "contracted some dread, chronic disease.

Instead of seeing the positive implications in this, he describes the situation thus: "It began to seem that the machinery of the organization I worked for was turning over, day and night, with but one aim: to eject me. He writes: "People were moving in every direction but it seemed to me, in that instant, that all of the people I could see … were moving toward me, against me. On the same night that Baldwin suffered the mental anguish of feeling that everyone was turning on him—a night of his most intense anger and mental disorientation—he has another revelation. At the height of his rage and disorientation—the same night that he threw a glass water pitcher at a white waitress who refused to serve him in a fancy restaurant—he realizes that his life is in danger.

He had allowed his anger to blind him to the point that he could have killed someone. If he had committed that murder, he too would have been killed. This danger to his life, he realizes, did not exist outside of him. It was not "from anything other people might do," he writes, "but from the hatred I carried in my own heart.

Like the prodigal son , Baldwin returns.


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There is tension all around him. It is the tension of waiting, of anticipating. He feels it in the unwillingness of the baby to be born. Her birth is well overdue. He feels it in his father's reluctance to die and wonders why he is hanging on to life. He also senses tension from people standing in the street in Harlem. Everything is poised for some inevitable action, just as Baldwin is poised for the final meeting with his father. Before he goes to visit his father for the last time, Baldwin theorizes about what might be causing the anxiety that he senses in the people gathering on every corner in his neighborhood.

In his description of that tension, he unwittingly draws attention to some of his own hidden emotions. For example, he mentions that almost everyone in his community was either related to or knew a young man who was a soldier. These people often gather together to share comments they have received in letters from the young "Negro boys in uniform," who have complained of the "indignities and dangers" they suffered, not in the war but in the boot camps where they trained in the South.

The parents and relatives of these soldiers actually feel relief, Baldwin believes, when their sons are able to leave the South and go oversees to the war. Baldwin's reference to a dangerous journey encapsulates, on a symbolic level, his own journey away from his father, one in which he is consumed by rage and paranoia. In addition, his mention of a death that one could hope to live with, might also symbolize, or foreshadow, his own spiritual death and rebirth that he will experience at his father's funeral. It is interesting to note that in the beginning of the essay, Baldwin mentions his father's death before he writes about his baby sister's impending birth.

The placement of death before birth connotes the concept of rebirth. In this way, Baldwin, right from the first few sentences, suggests the events that will occur in the final passages of his essay in which he will experience his own spiritual rebirth. Baldwin completes another segment of his journey as he travels with his aunt to Long Island to visit Baldwin's father for the last time.

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When he sees his father, Baldwin realizes that the reasons he had used to stay away from his father had merely been excuses. Once again, Baldwin is hit with another revelation. He thought he had stayed away from his father because he hated him, but he realizes that, in fact, the reason he had stayed away was that he wanted to hate him. He did not want to feel anything else but hate for him.

He had learned to live with the hate. If it had not healed his wounds, it had helped him to forget about them. Seeing his father in the hospital, a withered old man breathing his last breaths, Baldwin was unable to hate him. He is letting down his shields. He is looking at his father as a fellow human being, not as the tyrant who ruled his youth. Later, after his father dies, Baldwin writes that he cannot find anything black to wear to his father's funeral.

This could be a symbolic statement that he is not yet ready to mourn for his father. Not only is he unable to find the proper clothes, but neither can he face his father's death completely sober, so he borrows a black shirt and gets drunk before walking into the chapel. At this point, when he first arrives at the funeral, he is both there and not there. He is physically attending, but his emotions are numbed by the alcohol.

At the funeral, he listens to the minister eulogize his father. At first, Baldwin does not recognize the man that the minister is describing. The minister is using words such as "thoughtful, patient, and forbearing. Yet, Baldwin suddenly suspects that maybe the man he "had not known may have been the real one. As these suspicions work their way through his mind, Baldwin hears someone singing one of his father's favorites songs, and childhood memories rush in on him.

In a flash of recognition, Baldwin now remembers how proud his father used to be of him. He recollects his father beaming at him when he used to sing: "I had forgotten what he had looked like when he was pleased but now I remembered. Baldwin then questions his own reflections: "Had he loved her? He now remembers a more loving father, one who took his hand, one who wiped away his tears. At this point in the essay, Baldwin leaves the funeral and writes about the Harlem riots.

All the glass windows in the storefronts are broken. Merchandise is lying all over the street.


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Similarly, one might reflect that Baldwin had not realized all his father's emotions, nor all of his own, until his father's death pulled them out of him. Baldwin then writes about a metaphor concerning people's reactions to life's challenges. If a person chooses amputation, the reaction is swift, but later he or she may discover that amputation was not necessary.

Could he be referring here to his having closed himself off from his father? Baldwin closes his essay, by returning to one of his earlier revelations, the one in which he told himself that he must "hold onto the things that mattered. He now understands that he must learn to accept, but not complacently, for he must also, simultaneously, find some way to fight injustice.

These revelations come to him from his father's death, which opened his eyes and ears and cleared his memories. All the sermons his father had delivered, all the songs that his father had sung in church, whose meaning Baldwin had previously ignored, were now, in Baldwin's words, "arranged before me … like empty bottles, waiting to hold the meaning which life would give them for me.

Dybiec Holm is a published writer and editor with a master's degree in Natural Resources. In this essay, Dybiec Holm discusses the theme of societal constraint that links the essays in Baldwin's work. James Baldwin's collection of essays, titled Notes of a Native Son , examines the African-American man's experience in terms that are brutally honest.

Whether Baldwin is dealing with his experience as an African-American man in America or Europe, the reader is given a first hand view of the ingrained, societal obstacles that a minority faces.

James Baldwin's Narration and Analysis in Notes of a Native Son

Baldwin examines these barriers in the context of African- American literature , experiences in Harlem and in the South, family death, and finally, his experiences as an African-American man outside of America. The common theme that unites these different slants is a pronounced fatalism—an African-American person can never escape the constraints and the expectations that society puts upon him.

Beginning with his "Autobiographical Notes," which serve as an introduction, Baldwin makes it clear that society is something to be struggled with. As a writer, he claims that "Any writer, I suppose, feels that the world into which he was born is nothing less than a conspiracy against the cultivation of his talent—which attitude certainly has a great deal to support it. But the barriers that Baldwin describes in Notes of a Native Son go beyond those that are self-induced.

Essay about Baldwin's Writing Style in Notes to a Native Son

In "Everybody's Protest Novel," the author questions whether a novel that attempts to raise awareness of a societal problem such as the "Negro problem" actually misses its mark. According to Baldwin, these novels run the risk of being read for the "very definite thrill of virtue from the fact that we are reading such a book at all. According to Baldwin, American society's reactions to certain African- American art forms demonstrate the same unwillingness to accept the true nature of race relations. African Americans have finally been able to tell their story through their music, according to Baldwin.

However, "a protective sentimentality limits their Whites, other Americans understanding of it. But Baldwin warns that as society dehumanizes the African-American person, it also dehumanizes itself. Critic David Leeming, in Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia of American Literature, describes Baldwin's journey as "a lonely search for identity in a world blinded by its own myths. The author sees this as an inherent problem in being an American, let alone an African American.

Americans "reject all other ties, any other history, and … adopt the vesture of [their] adopted land.

But if African Americans cannot escape the pre-conclusions and expectations that society lays upon them, neither can the rest of society, according to Baldwin. If the rest of society would choose to deny or soften racial tensions, Baldwin claims that it is not possible. The 'nigger,' black, benighted, brutal, consumed with hatred as we are consumed with guilt, cannot be blotted out … let us refrain from inquiring at the moment whether or not he actually exists; for we believe he exists. Whenever we encounter him amongst us in the flesh, our faith is made perfect and his necessary and bloody end is executed with a mystical ferocity of joy.

Baldwin uses the African-American novel Native Son by Richard Wright as a telling example of ingrained societal constraints: " Native Son finds itself at length so trapped by the American image of Negro life and by the American necessity to find the ray of hope that it cannot pursue its own implications. Even the African-American press is not immune to the constraints of society, according to Baldwin.

It is the terrible dilemma of the Negro press that, having no other model, it models itself on the white press, attempting to emulate the same effortless, sophisticated tone—a tone that its subject matter renders utterly unconvincing. Thus, Ebony runs an editorial admonishing African Americans to be more patriotic and stop bemoaning their lot in life. Only in the letters-tothe-editor section can "life among the rejected be seen in print. It may be no accident that the essay "Notes of a Native Son" separates the previous essays about African-American life in America from the following essays, which detail Baldwin's experience as an African American abroad.

Baldwin seems to change course in this essay, slowing down to examine his life from a more personal view that incorporates the death of his father. But the author still cannot escape the constraints of his life, even as he comes to realize—in this essay—that some are self-imposed. Says Baldwin, after telling of an incident of discrimination in a restaurant:.

Notes of a Native Son - Wikipedia

I had been ready to commit murder. I saw nothing very clearly but I did see this: that my life, my real life, was in danger, and not from anything other people might do but from the hatred I carried in my own heart. When Baldwin lives overseas in France, he comes to realize that societal expectations have followed him across the ocean. These differ from those of American society; but their presence rises up at inopportune moments.

Criticism of Racial Stereotypes in James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son and Other Works

Leeming points out that Baldwin "use[s] incidents from [his] expatriate life in Europe as metaphors for the overall dilemma facing African Americans and other oppressed people. He also realizes that the context of dealing with Caucasians is different in this country, and he feels helpless. I had become very accomplished in New York [at] guessing and, therefore, to a limited extent manipulating to my advantage the reactions of the white world.

But this was not New York. None of my old weapons could serve me here. I did not know what they saw when they looked at me. In the last essay, titled "Stranger in the Village," Baldwin describes his residence in a remote Swiss village. Here, the people have never seen a person with Baldwin's skin color, and the children innocently cry "Neger! Though he knows the children are fascinated and well-intentioned, the cry can't help but raise dark, bitter memories in his mind.

Claims Baldwin, "[history] may be the nightmare from which no one can awaken. People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them. Korb has a master's degree in English literature and creative writing and has written for a wide variety of educational publishers.

This was the year when he was first pushed to his breaking point by white people and was forced to rebel against the prejudices that were presented before him. He explains that incident caused him to first contract the chronic disease: the racist fever towards white people. Unit One Speech Outline.

Writing Exercise 1 Part B Option 3. September 21, at am. Log in to Reply. September 20, at am. Essays Essays FlashCards. Browse Essays. Show More. In section III Baldwin provides the reader with a perfect example of his ability to weave in analysis with common narrative. This section continues to say that only the Lord knows the true intentions and the true soul of a man This part takes the reader from a fairly commonplace scene, such as a funeral, and proceeds to quickly, yet subtly, place the reader in an analysis of the duty and power of the Lord.

It is a quick and powerful transition, but it shows the reader how smoothly, almost effortlessly, Baldwin can give some of his true, inner insight about God in the context of a simple funeral. Read More. Words: - Pages: 7. Words: - Pages: 4. Words: - Pages:. Essay Notes Of A Native Son Rhetorical Analysis Notes of a Native Son Rhetorical Analysis Countless happenings of social wrongdoings have occurred throughout the United States for many years and the relocation of Native Americans and the struggle for equality between race and women are clear examples of this injustice.

Words: - Pages: 6. Words: - Pages: 8. Words: - Pages: Culture Reading Essay wives? Essay Analysis Of The Book ' Chickadee ' By Louise Erdrich stressful undertakings the family experiences, the book offers important historical information which is valuable today. Popular Essays.