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Baldwin's Perspective In Notes Of A Native Son

1813 words - 7 pages

James Baldwin

Born in Harlem in 1924, James Baldwin grew to be a complex man with many aspects. As an avid reader as a child, Baldwin soon developed the skills to become one of the most talented and strong writers of his time. His first novel was written in 1953 and was called “Go Tell it On the Mountain” and received critical acclaim. More great work from this novelist, essayist, and playwright were to come, one of which was “Notes of a Native Son,” which was first published in Harper’s Magazine in 1955 and was also first known as “Me and My House.” In “Notes of a Native Son,” Baldwin exercises his many talents as an essayist in how he manages to weave narratives and arguments throughout the essay. He is also able to use many of his experiences to prove his points. Baldwin effectively interlaces his narratives, arguments, and experiences so as to reach his central idea and to advocate the overall moral that he has learned to his audience. This is what makes Baldwin so unique in his work: his ability to successfully moralize all people he comes in contact with.

“Notes of a Native Son” is faceted with many ideas and arguments. The essay begins with Baldwin recounting July 29, 1943. The day his father died and his mother bore her last child (63). Baldwin shares his fathers’ past and of the hate and bitterness that filled him and how Baldwin realizes that it may soon fill him also. Baldwin spends the rest of the essay mostly analyzing his experiences and the behavior and mentality of his father, of whom he seemed to dislike. He comes to the conclusion that one must hold true two ideas: “. . . acceptance, totally without rancor, of life as it is and men as they are: in light of this idea... injustice is a commonplace. . . the second idea, one must never, in one’s own life, accept these injustices as commonplace, but must fight them with all one’s strength” (84). The ending at first comes as a surprise. Including the last phrase from which is also unexpected due to the dislike that Baldwin expresses towards his father, he finishes the essay wishing to have his father there with him. But in actuality, this ending should not have come as a bombshell at all, if one were to take a closer look.

Throughout “Notes of a Native Son,” Baldwin comes to his two final ideas mainly through realization of himself and of his environment. Over a year before his father passes away, Baldwin leaves home and during his time away, he becomes more aware of the world that surrounds him. How that world viewed and treated people of his kind. He had read, heard, and knew of the hate and discrimination against African Americans, but never fully experienced it until then. From these experiences, he was better able to understand these feelings. He could understand the meaning behind his fathers cruelty, what lead to his fathers death, what could also lead to his, which explains his fear, and the feeling that came from the burdens of...

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