James Baldwin is an Epic Poet Essay

James Baldwin is an Epic Poet Essay

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James Baldwin; Epic Poet

When studying humanity through the arts and literature one can?t help but notice that every civilization has a famous narrative or an epic. The epic marks the beginning of classical civilization in that it was the first form of literature to be written down from oral tradition. The epic tells of the glory of a society, of its? founding from the ruin of another or tells us of the experiences of a beloved hero. The common trait of any epic poem or narrative lies in the tragic hero, or the main character of the story. The hero represents a more than average member of society with a tragic fatal flaw. The narration ends with the hero?s downfall at the hands of this fatal flaw which reminds us of our weak human nature. The tragic downfall of the hero does not always manifest itself in the hero?s death but sometimes in his realization of a hard truth. Western culture has romanticized these heroes in more than just literature but in everyday life. I couldn?t help but notice the characteristics of a tragic hero manifest themselves in a young James Baldwin as I read his essay ?Notes of a Native Son.? In this 20th century essay; Baldwin as the author uses the narrative of his experiences around the time of his father?s death to analyze his feelings on family, race and culture. Baldwin?s writing flows brilliantly between narrative and analysis in an almost epic fashion. Through my writing I would like to analyze the epic of the young James Baldwin and see what truths are hidden in the framework of Baldwin?s marvelous tale.

After his fathers? death Baldwin reflects on him through stories and scenes of social unrest. In order to understand the character of James Baldwin we must first unde...


... middle of paper ...


...He is forced to accept life as it is, an unjust world in which father and son, black and white cannot see each other as equals. One must accept this world because failure to accept it leads to hatred and despair and as we have seen hatred led to the destruction of his father. But on the same token he outlines another hard truth which is that one must not accept the injustice with lowered eyes, one must fight injustices. We as humans experience this sad reality everyday as the epic of human life and through his words at the end of the essay James realizes his humanity as well. We must all accept injustice but at the same time fight to change it, that is our duty that we owe to our fellow humans.

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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