Black Americans' Struggle in Baldwin's Stranger in the Village

Black Americans' Struggle in Baldwin's Stranger in the Village

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Black Americans' Struggle in Baldwin's Stranger in the Village

In ?Stranger in the Village? (1955), James Baldwin, a writer born and raised in Harlem, experiences extreme emotions during his stay in a 'tiny Swiss village'(127). James Baldwin?s feelings of inadequacy and insecurities of being an American black man bring out a rage in him toward the white man's power over him.

His deep feelings of outrage, bringing back hurtful memories as a black child in America, are revived as he is forced to endure the unintentional cruelties of the villagers. Baldwin asserts that even the most simple-minded white man has more control and history over Baldwin than Baldwin's desire to reclaim his culture. As his outrage mounts, Baldwin admits that the black man intends to make the white man stop acknowledging him as an 'exotic rarity and recognize him as a human being'(131). Baldwin further reveals he is tired of getting looked at with curiosity and deception; he desperately yearns to be accepted as an American man. Furthermore, Baldwin's anguish at the loss of the American Negro slave's history, as it was taken away from them, enrages and saddens him, yet he doesn't truly blame the white man because the white Americans were only following in the footsteps of the Europeans of the past. In this context, from Baldwin's perspective, Europeans experienced no dilemma of conscience towards the black man, and he just 'did not exist for Europe'(132). Americans, on the other hand, faced a moral conflict to recognize the black man?s identity without poisoning their own (133).

Despite his rage and aggressive support of the black man?s struggle in America, he strove for humane treatment in a racist society. Baldwin sought to bring about acceptance and a better future for black Americans and having feelings of inadequacy and insecurity determined him to bring change to America: ?This world is white no longer, and it will never be white again?(135). This statement is not meant to be taken at face value.

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What Baldwin claims is that this world will never be pure or innocent again. When the American Negro experiences his true identity and history, then white America will become a part of black America, a blending of cultures, in which power evens out and his rage will diminish.

Work Cited

Baldwin, James. "Stranger in the Village." Inventing America: Readings in Identity and Culture. Ed. Gabriella Ibieta and Miles Orvell. New York: St. Martin's, 1996. 126-35.
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