Giovanni's Room

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade December 2001

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1. The title of the book is Giovanni's room and the author is James Baldwin.

2a. It was first published in 1957 by Michael Joseph Ltd.

2b. I've read the edition that was published in 1984 by Black Swan.

3a. Giovanni's room is the room in which David and Giovanni lived for some time.

3b. David has a lot of memories attached to that room: they used to tell each other a lot of things there, they made love their; they really lived in that small room just outside of Paris.

4. The book is novel about homosexuality.

5a. The scene is laid in Paris.

5b. In the past. I know that the book was written around 1956. In the book, the people don't really seem to accept homosexual people as much as they are accepted at this very moment. So that occurs to the past also.

6a. The main characters are Giovanni and David (last names are unknown!) 6b. Giovanni is an Italian guy. He is, I think, about 30 years old and he works in a bar in Paris. He is homosexual and very emotional. He is very charming, loving and sweet.

David is an American guy, who is living in Paris for some while. He moved to Paris with his girlfriend Hella, but she went away for some time, to think about what she really wanted to do with her life. David is quite insecure about himself and he doens't really know what his feelings are. He's not sure whether he's gay or not. He's quite loving too, just like Giovanni. But since he isn't really sure about his feelings, he sometimes seems to neglect Giovanni and just starts drinking or wandering around the city.

7. The book starts on the day that David goes back to Paris by train. He says that it is the most terrible morning of his life. When he arrives in Paris, he sees Jacques and Jacques asks him if he has heard about Giovanni. Then, there is a flashback.

One night, David (who's girlfriend Hella has just gone to Spain to think about what she wants to do with her live) goes out with his friend Jacques. They go to a bar in Paris. Jacques is homosexual and as soon as the two of them enter the bar, Jacques notices the bartender. He thinks he's very attractive. But since Jacques is quite shy, in a way, he doesn't have the guts to ask the bartender if he would like to go for a drink together with him and David. So, David does it for him. He starts talking to the bartender and he finds out his name is Giovanni and that he's Italian. While the two of them are talking, David feels quite attracted to Giovanni. He has never really felt this feeling so strong before and he doesn't know wether he likes it or not. At the moment that the two of them are talking, Jacques is talking to Guillaume. He's the owner of the bar and Giovanni's boss.

Anyway, after the bar closes the 4 of them go out for a drink and something to eat. Giovanni and David get along extremely well. After they had aten, David joins Giovanni to his little room, just outside of the centre of Paris. They drink some more and they end up in bed.

After a while, David decides to move in with Giovanni. They still have a great time together. At night, when Giovanni goes to work, David wanders around in Paris. They seem to be happy together.

One night, when David comes home after he's been out, he finds Giovanni alone in the room. He looks angry. David asks what the matter is, and he is told that Giovanni was fired. Guillaume wrongfully accused him (in front of all the guests in the bar) of taking money out of the checkbox. Giovanni feels humiliated. He asks David never to leave him, because he wouldn't know what to do without him.

Since Giovanni was fired, David and him seem to have more fights. They also ran out of money, and they live a poor live. Suddenly, David receives a lettre from Hella, that she is coming back from Spain. She will come to Paris and wants to get married to David. David doesn't know what to do and he doesn't tell Giovanni anything about the lettre.

On the day that Hella arrives in Paris, David leaves Giovanni's room without saying where he's going. The following days, he does nice things with Hella. One night, he bumps into Giovanni on the street. Giovanni looks terrible; his heart has been broken. David tells him that he's going to marry Hella soon and that they're probably leaving Paris. Sometimes, David and Giovanni meet on the streets, and everytime Giovanni looks worse. He's suffering.

One day, David finds out in the newspaper that Guillaume was murdered and that Giovanni has dissapeared without a trace. David is almost sure that Giovanni is guilty, but David is the only one who seems to understand why he did it. After a few days, the police find Giovanni and he is found guilty of the murder. He has to be perished on the guillotine.

David doesn't want to face the truth and he moves away from Paris, with Hella. They rent a house somewhere in France. Hella finds out about David's homosexual affair with Giovanni and she leaves him. Now he's all alone in the house. On the day Giovanni will be killed, David decides to go back to Paris...

8a. The theme of this book is homosexuality and dealing with the reality.

8b. Yes, I think James Baldwin tried to achieve more than plain entertainment. I think he wants us to think about our feelings and that we have to be very sure about the way we feel. If you're not completely sure about being homosexual you shouldn't get involved in a relationship with someone who is sure about his feelings and really wants to love you with all his life.

9. I read this book because the title looked quite interesting to me. I didn't know hat to expect, because "˜Giovanni's room' can mean a lot of things! When I looked at the back of the book, I read that this book was written very good. Stories about homosexuality somehow interest me, that's why I chose this book.

10. "˜Giovanni's room' is a great book to read. It really caught me attention. I didn't want to quit reading, because it was so interesting. The book is quite easy to read. David's feelings were described in a special way, you can understand what he feels and how he thinks!!! Great!