Racial Transition In James Baldwin's Notes Of A Native Son

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In 1955 a civil rights activist by the name of James Baldwin wrote his famous essay “Notes of a Native Son”. James Baldwin was born in Harlem, New York during a time where racial tensions where high all throughout the United States. In this essay he highlights these tensions and his experience’s regarding them, while also giving us an insight of his upbringing. Along with this we get to see his relationship with a figure of his life, his father or more accurately his stepfather. In the essay James Baldwin says “This fight begins, however, in the heart and it now had been laid to my charge to keep my own heart free of hatred and despair”. This is a very powerful sentence that I believe portrays James Baldwin transition to adulthood or a transition…show more content…
Throughout the essay Baldwin talks about his fathers hatred or mistrust towards whites such as the story of the white school teacher who Baldwin’s stepdad has an immediate mistrust towards. This path is the path Baldwin, throughout his life has rebelled against his father against. However, as time moved one Baldwin began to feel this fight/hatred that his father experience not because of his father but because of his actual experiences. We can use the story of the restaurant for examples of this as well as an example for Baldwin and his father similarities. In the story you can tell this is a transition of ideas, especially for Baldwin and the idea of his father. Before the death of his father Baldwin and his father had different views of the world, where his father saw only the past and nothing of the future, Baldwin saw people, saw change waiting to happen, the niceness of whites not the nastiness his father was keen to. Baldwin declares “I knew about Jim-Crow, but I had never experienced it” about the restaurant he had been going to for weeks, the racism that he was receiving was never received by him, until his “eyes were open” by the death of his father. This was an unknowingly act from the author that further assimilated him and his fathers…show more content…
In the quote, Baldwin specifically uses ‘my own heart”, I believe this is because love is often the reasons for hate, and emotion as strong as these are usually birthed from the heart. This theme is evident in both Baldwin and his father. His father loved being black. Baldwin describes his father blackness as beautiful; as can be seen in the passage “I think -he was very black-with his blackness and his beauty…”. His love of being black would soon become a hatred in his heart, this can be seen in the text “He claimed to be proud of his blackness but it had also been the cause of much humiliation…”. His father a proud, strong black man had to endure every day that he was weaker to the white man if only because of his color. Within him, he had to deal with loving himself for being black, but also hating himself for it, for the trouble it brought him. Baldwin just like his father also had to endure the same struggle, his struggle differs in the fact that he had a love towards white Americans, yet the Americans that treated him the worst were white people, and all just because of his color, something he also
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