Analysis of Baldwin's Giovanni's Room Essay

Analysis of Baldwin's Giovanni's Room Essay

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Baldwin portrays sexual oppression in his novel entitled, Giovanni's Room. Sexual oppression is exemplified through individual homosexual white men who are unable to find happiness or contentment in themselves or in everyday
relationships. In Baldwin's 'Everybody's Protest Novel' he writes, 'but our
humanity is our burden, our life; we need not battle for it; we need only to do what
is infinitely more difficult-that is, accept it.' Giovanni's Room is about each
individual's need to accept their own humanity and societies need to embrace the
universal theme of suffering. Baldwin uses the main character David to exemplify an individual's struggle to accept himself, unfortunately his rite of passage is thwarted by his inability to accept his humanity in a world of socially ascribed sexual categories.

One of the main themes expressed in Giovanni's Room is that of societies
loneliness. Baldwin portrays this universal suffering among all of his characters
and he uses this suffering as a means of motivation. Loneliness plagues each of the
characters, regardless of whether or not they have accepted their humanity.
Everyone from David?s father to Jacques to Hella is searching for a love or a
meaningful connection in the world. At the beginning of the novel, when we are
first introduced to the narrator, David, we learn about his friendship with Joey.
This relationship provides David with his first sense of joy and contentment, yet his
fear of falling outside of societies sexual definitions overpower these feelings and
leads him back into the arms of loneliness. The narrator reflects on his experience
and Baldwin writes, ?the power and the promise and the mystery of that body made
me suddenly afraid. That bo...

... middle of paper ...

...revents him from ever grasping his true humanity. Baldwin exemplifies his words
in ?Everybody?s Protest Novel? through this novel by painting a picture of how
difficult it can actually be to accept our own humanity. Baldwin clearly states a
message which promotes universal understanding in a world of complex individuals.
He portrays the reality of human beings common suffering, while campaigning for
humanity to accept and not define individual categorizations. Baldwin uses David
to show the power of love and human connection in society, along with the negative
effect socially defined roles can have on individuals development.

Work Cited

Baldwin, James. Giovanni's Room. New York: Random House Inc., 2000.

Work Consulted

Mengay, Donald H. "The Failed Copy: Giovanni's Room and the (Re)Contextualization of Difference." Genders. No 17, Fall 1993.

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