James Baldwin's Writing Technique Essay

James Baldwin's Writing Technique Essay

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The Baldwin Technique

James Baldwin is highly regarded as one of the great writers of his time. In the “Notes of a Native Son” he describes a very influential moment in his life. The essay’s setting takes place during the Harlem riots in New York City and Detroit. The riot in New York all began due the fatal shooting of a young African American boy by a white police officer. Protesters began to protest the police brutality, but then fights and looting broke out when some protesters became unruly. Baldwin’s essay reflects upon his interactions and feelings with and about his father. He analyzes how his father affected him and talks about what kind of person his father was. He also reflects on the impact of his father’s death. All the while, within the essay, Baldwin uses different techniques in order to obtain and intrigue his readers. He primarily makes his essay a narrative. However, he also incorporates his analysis, which usually stem from his use of binaries and contrasts. His use of repetitive words also plays a big part in his style. All of those techniques all intertwined in a way that will help the reader understand Baldwin and his ideas a lot clearer. His combination of both narrative and analysis can be viewed in the very first paragraph.

Baldwin begins his essay by stating that fact that his father died on the July 29, 1943. Right after stating that fact, he mentions the rioting, which occurred in Detroit and in Harlem about a month before the death of his father. Baldwin incorporates the events that are going on around him in his narrative as a way to set up the environment for the reader. The rioting and other events that Baldwin speaks of is his way of explaining, or even rationalizing his feelings during tha...


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... to compare himself with his father. He made the riots in Harlem and Detroit versus the police share similar qualities to his relationship with his father. Baldwin’s word choosing is also very effective in Notes of a Native Son. He italicizes certain words in order to portray his emotions towards a situation without even having to go into an in-depth explanation. Lastly, Baldwin’s most obvious trait in weaving both narrative and analytical writing is the use of word repetition. He continually used the strongest word that he could think of (hate) and just repeat it over and over again. The main thing to notice is that Baldwin uses the same word not only through his narrative but also within his analysis.

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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