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James Baldwin's Notes Of A Native Son

1057 words - 4 pages

James Baldwin's "Notes of a Native Son" demonstrates his complex and unique relationship with his father. Baldwin's relationship with his father is very similar to most father-son relationships but the effect of racial discrimination on the lives of both, (the father and the son) makes it distinctive. At the outset, Baldwin accepts the fact that his father was only trying to look out for him, but deep down, he cannot help but feel that his father was imposing his thoughts and experiences on him. Baldwin's depiction of his relationship with his father while he was alive is full of loathing and detest for him and his ideologies, but as he matures, he discovers his father in himself. His father's hatred in relation to the white American society had filled him with hatred towards his father. He realizes that the hatred inside both of them has disrupted their lives.
Baldwin's mind seems to be saturated with anger towards his father; there is a cluster of gloomy and heartbreaking memories of his father in his mind. Baldwin confesses that "I could see him, sitting at the window, locked up in his terrors; hating and fearing every living soul including his children who had betrayed him" (223). Baldwin's father felt let down by his children, who wanted to be a part of that white world, which had once rejected him. Baldwin had no hope in his relationship with his father. He barely recalls the pleasurable time he spent with his father and points out, "I had forgotten, in the rage of my growing up, how proud my father had been of me when I was little" (234). The cloud of anger in Baldwin's mind scarcely lets him accept the fact that his father was not always the cold and distant person that he perceived him to be. It is as if Baldwin has forgotten that they had ever been happy together.
Baldwin's stay in New Jersey brought him face to face with the harsh realities of life. The white world had shut the door on him and he finally conceded the burden of being black. Baldwin affirms, "I had discovered the weight of the white people in the world" (222). Baldwin realized that his father was not trying to pass along his racist beliefs. He was simply trying to save them from the agonizing conduct of the whites towards them. He found the reason behind the bitterness in his father. Baldwin also became aware that the bitterness, which he had once hated in his father, was now a part of him "The bitterness which had helped to kill my father could also kill me" (222). Baldwin did not want live a lonely life; the fear of becoming, what his father once was, dwelled in Baldwin. He realized that he had to free himself of the bitterness, before the bitterness distanced him from his family (like it had, for his father).
Baldwin felt torn between the feeling of hatred that he had always felt for...

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