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Writing of James Baldwin

Powerful Essays
The Writing Wisdom of James Baldwin

James Baldwin is not known by much of America’s youth today, and his writings are not taught in many schools. His style of writing, however, is ultimately unique. Baldwin’s African-American viewpoint is very rare, creating a fresh way to look upon American culture and ethnicity. There also may be no other author like Baldwin that blends narrative and analysis seamlessly, while still keeping the reader interested in the story at hand. In “Notes of a Native Son,” Baldwin uses this weaving of narration and analysis to show his inability to see how his father’s personality had impacted and molded his own personality.

In “Notes of a Native Son,” Baldwin’s mastery of weaving narrative and analysis is blatantly obvious. The premise behind the essay is the relationship between Baldwin and his father. The essay takes the reader through trials and tribulations in Baldwin’s life, including the spats between him and his father. Their relationship was, safe to say, slightly aloof. Baldwin describes throughout the essay the fact that he and his father would rarely speak, and that when they did, it usually ended in an argument. The essay also paints a picture of Harlem in the 1940’s, specifically during the massive riots of 1943. Baldwin describes other riots and social situations that were occurring around the rest of the country at the same time as the Harlem riots. The essay also describes the death of Baldwin’s father, and the emotions incurred by James and his family. Baldwin also does some reflection in this essay, describing his feelings towards his father and how they have changed over more than a decade since his death. Baldwin often uses his feelings towards ...

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The style at which Baldwin mixes true story with gut-wrenching emotion in “Notes of a Native Son” is absolutely astounding. He draws the reader into the story, and then lets them in to his heart and soul. His ability to incorporate his feelings with those of the African-American race is what makes this essay unique. He does not simply write the first half of the paper as a narrative, and then spend the final half analyzing himself. He analyzes himself at every opportunity that he sees fit, after every major occurrence in he and his father’s life. Baldwin’s blunt, perhaps even crude analysis of himself, his father, and both the white and black races shows that he is not afraid of what others think.

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.
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