Some people regard James Baldwin as one of the best essayists of all time because of his ability to enmesh argument within narrative. Baldwin aims to tell a story, yet every so often throughout ?Notes of a Native Son,? he takes a moment to analyze what has happened. As the essay ebbs and flows from narrative into argument, the reader hardly knows the tide has changed. During this change, Baldwin turns to analyzing what has just happened, allowing the reader to actively interpret his analysis as a central theme throughout the work. Throughout the essay, Baldwin?s main narrative dealt with how blacks are treated by white people. When analyzing this narrative, it can be seen that white minds caused black madness, because of how the blacks were treated.
Baldwin spends a majority of ?Notes? telling about his father?s life. Baldwin?s father eventually died from an illness of the mind, which plagued him for the last years of his life. His father was the first of a generation of free men. He kept to himself most of the time, had very dark skin, and was a preacher. He always had good intentions, but somehow those intentions never turned out well. As a result of his life, he had a great paranoia, which kept him from getting close to his children, and fueled his angry temper. James Baldwin noticed this paranoia as a young child. Part of the essay talks of when Baldwin was a young boy. One of his teachers, who happened to be white, was interested in a play he wrote, and wanted to take him to see one at the theater. They went to the play and later when Baldwin?s father was laid off his job, this woman became more and more important to helping the family. Even th...
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...Baldwin reflects saying, ?now that my father was irrecoverable, I wished that he had been beside me so that I could have searched his face for the answers which only the future would give me now? (84). Baldwin wishes his father was there so he could look into his own future, and see how to cure his bitter madness. In ?Notes,? the narrative of his father?s life, Baldwin realizes, may eventually become the continuation of his own life, unless he learns from what has happened to his father. This essay tells the story of the latter half of his father?s life, and the first half of his own. These two half-lives can be spliced together to represent an African American?s life anywhere during this time period.
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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