James Baldwin's Stranger in the Village

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James Baldwin's Stranger in the Village

In paragraph three of James Baldwin's 'Stranger in the Village' (1955), he alludes to emotions that are significant, dealing with conflicts that arise in the Swiss village. Of these emotions are two, astonishment and outrage, which represent the relevant feelings of Baldwin, an American black man. These two emotions, for Baldwin's ancestors, create arguments about the 'Negro' and their rights to be considered 'human beings' (Baldwin 131). Baldwin, an American Negro, feels undeniable rage toward the village because of the misconception of his complexion, a misconception that denies Baldwin human credibility and allows him to be perceived as a 'living wonder' (129).

Baldwin and his ancestors share this common rage because of the reflections their culture has had on the rest of society, a society consisting of white men who have thrived on using false impressions as a weapon throughout American history. Baldwin gives credit to the fact that no one can be held responsible for what history has unfolded, but he remains restless for an explanation about the perception of his ancestors as people. In Baldwin?s essay, his rage becomes more directed as the ?power of the white man? becomes relevant to the misfortune of the American Negro (Baldwin 131). This misfortune creates a fire of rage within Baldwin and the American Negro. As Baldwin?s American Negro continues to build the fire, the white man builds an invisible wall around himself to avoid confrontation about the actions of his ?forefathers? (Baldwin 131). Baldwin?s anger burns through his other emotions as he writes about the enslavement of his ancestors and gives the reader a shameful illusion of a Negro slave having to explai...

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...as a reader I must understand that his opinions are supported by his true, raw emotions. These negative feelings shared by all of his ancestors were too strong to just pass by as meaningless emotions. Baldwin created an outlook simply from his honest views on racial issues of his time, and ours. Baldwin?s essay puts the white American to shame simply by stating what he perceived as truth. Baldwin isn?t searching for sympathy by discussing his emotions, nor is he looking for an apology. I feel that he is pointing out the errors in Americans? thinking and probably saying, ?Look at what you people have to live with, if and when you come back to the reality of ?our? world.?

Work Cited

Baldwin, James. ?Strange in the Village.? Inventing America: Readings in Identity and Culture. Ed. Gabriella Ibieta and Miles Orvell. New York: St. Martins, 196. 126-35.
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