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White Treatment Of Blacks In Notes Of A Native Son

1388 words - 6 pages

The White Beginning To Black Paranoia

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 though her intentions were good, Baldwin?s father was still wary about her. Baldwin makes a comment about his father at this point saying, ?he never trusted her and was always trying to surprise in her open, Midwestern face the genuine, cunningly hidden, and hideous motivation? (68). She meant only good things while trying to help the Baldwin family, but because of the association Baldwin?s father made with white people everywhere, he would never be able to trust her. This shows his father?s constant paranoia, even in acts of kindness, that the white people have ulterior motives. Yet young Baldwin did not see this.

At this time James Baldwin was about nine or ten years old. His father was always warning him of the evils of the white man. He was told that, ?white people would do anything to keep a Negro down? (68). But young James was not so sure of his father?s outlook on others. He doubted that any such thing was possible, and in his ignorance said, ?I did not feel this way and I was certain, in my innocence, that I never would? (68). Soon enough, James began to see the world through the eyes of a black man. In New Jersey, Baldwin had multiple run-ins with white people that did not have too strong...

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