Baldwin's My Dungeon Shook: A Letter to my Nephew

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Baldwin's My Dungeon Shook: A Letter to my Nephew

Does the American Dream belong to every one or does it exclude some individuals? The American Dream is a very powerful force that molds America. It has existed for many generations but has it changed over time? The foundation of the Dream tends to stay the same that is the pursuit of happiness, hope, freedom, justice and equality. The concepts within the American Dream should alter to fit the changes of society. The breakthroughs and obstacles that America overcomes should shift the American Dream. Society may see the American Dream as a dangerous power causing them to be scared to challenge the concepts of the traditional American Dream. Will society become dysfunctional if someone challenges the American Dream or will it make our country stronger and more diverse?

According to James Baldwin’s “My Dungeon Shook: A Letter to My Nephew” African Americans cannot obtain their piece of the American Dream. Baldwin wrote a letter to his nephew in hope of guiding him through life. Baldwin had many words of wisdom to share, mostly words provoked by pain and anger. Baldwin wanted to teach his nephew about the cruelty of society. His main point was to teach his nephew not to believe the white man and his words. He wanted to encourage his nephew to succeed in life but not to expect the unassailable. By believing the white man one can not succeed but by knowing where one comes from will lead to success was the foundation of Baldwin’s message (243-246).

When reading “My Dungeon Shook: A Letter to my Nephew”, it was clear that Baldwin was not just writing a letter to his nephew but to society by interacting personal thoughts with public awareness.

Although Baldwin’s letter was addressed to his nephew, he intended for society as a whole to be affected by it. “This innocent country set you down in a getto in which, in fact, it intended that you should parish”(Baldwin 244). This is an innocent country, innocent only because they know not what they do. They discriminate the African American by expecting them to be worthless, by not giving them a chance to prove their credibility. Today African Americans are considered to be disesteemed in society. They are placed in this class before they are even born just like Royalty obtains their class before they are even conceived. We may think that this is a paradox but when d...

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...ow by forgiving the people who hurt him and Baldwin is trying to redeem Jesus’ example by forgiving the people who hurt him. Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the chains that embodies mankind. Forgiveness could be thought of as the potion that unites America and brings equality to the redeemed world.

Although the American Dream is considered to be the link that binds society, there are some individuals that do not posses link to unit. The African Americans have been struggling for many years to obtain the piece of the American Dream, their place in America. Joseph Kennedy has frustration and anger built up while trying to find his place in America, “Goddamn it! I was born in this country! My children were born in this country! What the hell does someone have to do to become an American” (qtd. In Harris 369)? If someone challenges the concepts of the American Dream then maybe our country can unite. Do not fear the American Dream, yes it is a powerful force that molds society but each individual controls the power. If one does not believe in the American Dream then the power of the Dream is weakened. Would America unite and become equal if someone challenges the American Dream?

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