Notes of a Native Son, a widely acclaimed and celebrated book by James Baldwin was subjected to many reviews upon its first publication. There were many opposing views between reviewers but almost all came to the conclusion that Baldwin’s use of words was extremely eloquent and intelligent. Specifically an article titled “Rage unto Order” by Dachine Rainer was very adamant about Baldwin’s genius as a writer but hardly did anything to explain or exemplify that fact. Another review written by Langston Hughes reflects upon how Baldwin clings to the issue of racial discrimination on Negroes and that if he let go of that fact it would prove him to be a greater writer. In the third article the author tries to explain the meaning of Baldwin’s essay with specific quotes from within Baldwin’s work. However blatantly different there are several similarities between the articles. Some of which are Baldwin’s writing style and the articles share similar analyses of his viewpoints.
Dachine Rainer praises James Baldwin throughout her review of his book Notes of a Native Son. She fails to go into very great detail about why Baldwin’s writing is so profound. She does however analyze how Baldwin’s style of writing has been put upon him through the Negro intellectual’s lack of identity with the Negro and impossibility to establish any genuine understanding with the white intellectual. She goes on to describe Negroes as preliterate and the Negro intellectual a heretic and therefore in “perpetual exile.” It seems as though she is trying to say that the common Negro is unintelligent and an educated one is rare but however not on the same level as an educated white person. Another point brought up in t...
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...In articles by Rainer and Hughes they both reiterate that Baldwin is lost between his identity of “American” and “Afro-American” which effects his quality of his writing.
Although some reviews may have been more critical of Baldwin than others the overall theme stayed constant with the acknowledgement that he had a good use of words. The reviews are in agreement that Baldwin needs to establish himself more in society as an equal as opposed to each of his “halves” (American and Afro-American), which need to be “fused” together. Upon doing so he’ll be able to better establish himself as a writer become a more complete essayist.
Hughes, Langston. “From Harlem to Paris.” New York Times 26 Feb. 1956: 26+.
“In the Castle of My Skin.” Time 5 Dec. 1955: 112-114.
Rainer, Dachine. “Rage into Order.” Commonweal 63 (1956): 384-385.
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