There is a very thin line between love and hate in James Baldwin’s essay “Notes of a Native Son.” Throughout this essay James Baldwin continually makes references to life and death, blacks and whites, and love and hate. He uses his small experiences to explain a much larger, more complicated picture of life. From the first paragraph of the essay to the last paragraph, Baldwin continually makes connections on his point of view on life; beginning with the day his father died, to the time that his father was buried. James Baldwin is an outstanding author, who creatively displays his ability to weave narration and analysis throughout his essays.
The binaries between life and death play a huge role in Baldwin’s “Notes of a Native Son.” The day that James Baldwin’s father died, his mother had borne her last child. Although the day his father died was extremely upsetting, a new child coming into the world is exciting. This brings hope to the reader that eventually through all the trials and tribulations Baldwin goes through, that eventually he might find a state of peace.
Baldwin’s father’s funeral happens to fall on Baldwin’s nineteenth birthday, which brings up another way Baldwin is able to show how life and death affect this essay. Instead of trying to deal with his father’s death with his family, Baldwin decides to celebrate his birthday with a bottle of whiskey and a girl that he knew. Baldwin is unsure of what to do now that his father is gone. He says, “I imagine I decided it, since, as the funeral hour approached, it became clearer and clearer to me that I would not know what to do with myself when it was over” (Baldwin 77). Baldwin figures that if he gets drunk enoug...
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...ne to them and they would not tolerate it. So instead of cowering to the white girl’s “white power” they stood up for themselves; and showed this girl that she was not better than them just because of her skin color. It is these girls that help to diminish the “separate but equal” facilities.
James Baldwin is an incredible essayist. He skillfully intertwines his own experiences growing up, into a more universal theory. Using binaries, Baldwin explains the hatred between whites and blacks and his desire for a change. His point of view on life is slightly different from the beginning of the essay to the last. However, he creatively shows these changes through narration and analysis.
Baldwin, James. “Notes of a Native Son.” 1955. James Baldwin: Collected Essays. Ed. Toni Morrison. New York, New York, Library of America, 1998. 70-84.
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