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Litterature - Essay Example

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Name Instructor Class 2 April 2013 James Baldwin: Influences, Writing Styles, and Cultural Issues “You have to go the way your blood beats. If you don’t live the only life you have, you won’t live some other life, you won’t live any life at all,” writes James Baldwin (qtd…
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Download file to see previous pages Baldwin’s socio-economic, gender, racial, and religious conditions shape a personal-universal writing style, which aims to write for people who establish and develop their identities, using their own frame of references. Cultural Issues and Influences Baldwin’s cultural issues intersect concerns for race, gender, and class, where Harlem is one of the strongest cultural influences on Baldwin. The poverty of his family and neighborhood and the religiosity of his stepfather affected his work aesthetics and style. Gerald Meyer believes that the key to understanding Baldwin’s politics is through analyzing his Harlem roots and culture. While some writers like Langston Hughes saw Harlem as a black Mecca, Baldwin lived in it and remembers it as a ghetto.” Baldwin’s “The Harlem Ghetto” dispels notions of aesthetic greatness that some writers attribute to it: …the buildings are old and in desperate need of repair, the streets are crowded and dirty; there are too many human beings per square mile… All of Harlem is a place pervaded by a sense of congestion, rather like the insistent, maddening, claustrophobic pounding in the skull that comes from trying to breathe in a very small room with all the windows shut.” (39 qtd. in Meyer 274). ...
Furthermore, though coming from a low economic status with racial and gender concerns, Baldwin resists being a black fundamentalist or to conform to any label. Instead, he supports diverse views, a devotion which signifies his multiracial and multi-gender politics. He does not want to be seen as a Negro writer or as a gay writer per se (Field 7). In writing for all, nevertheless, critics charged him for having no unifying ideology. Francois Burgess disparages Baldwin’s works as being too broad: “Alone among Black contemporary writers, Baldwin could not or did not know how to find a central ideology that would give to his work coherence and unity” (Bobia 54 qtd. in Field 7). But this paper believes that Baldwin only writes from what he feels is personally right, which resonate with those who experience or witness the same struggles. Baldwin does not have to conform to the frameworks and labels of others to become the writer that he wants to be. Aside from Harlem, Paris shaped Baldwin’s writings through the theme of expatriation. Baldwin leaves America, not only because he is disillusioned with the persecution of his race and gender in the U.S., but more so because he wants to distance himself from these struggles, in order to find his identity, including his writing voice. Price describes Baldwin’s Parisian stopover as a “liberating experience,” that gives him “the sanction, if one can accept it, to become oneself” (313 qtd. in Tomlinson 136). Baldwin cannot be himself in a society that attacks him from different sides. The physical distance refreshes him, reminding him of his roles and functions as a writer and as an American. Robert Tomlinson argues that the theme of expatriation in Baldwin’s works ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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