James Bladwin and Notes of A Native Son

Essay by jsrsg1University, Master'sA+, April 2004

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Throughout the history of the United States, communities of all races and religions have been bombarded with activists and modern-day intellectuals expressing their points of view on the plagues of society today. Some of these activists are independent soft-spoken conservatives while others are wild ill-willed extremist trying to press for their cause no matter what harm. James Baldwin served the entire human race by trying to educate both whites and blacks, so that one-day in blacks and whites could live in harmony.

James Baldwin grew up as one of many sons from a poor African American family and was pressed to become a preacher like his father. Throughout his childhood, like most blacks, he suffered much prejudice because of his skin color. However, this only made him stronger. On the day of his father's funeral, he witnessed the great Harlem race riot. This act of violence and racial tension profoundly shaped his views and persona of the relationship between blacks and whites.

James Baldwin diagnoses American society's hatred, and teaches ways to see and think that can move readers in a positive direction. After witnessing the race riot in Harlem, Baldwin comes to the realization that "hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man that hated and this was an immutable law" (67). Baldwin knew that the emotion of hate alone could not sustain a society. Blacks and whites cannot rely on the raw emotion of hate to bring them individual freedoms that they deserve. When one relies on hate as their primary fuel, there are only two choices. The choices, as Baldwin states, are either amputation or gangrene (67). This theory applies in situations such as racial issues. One can either completely separate his or herself from the situation (amputation) or simply suffer through...