It deals with a complex subject: language and identity. One of the biggest roadblocks I encountered was to understand the meaning of several phrases in Black English, and other phrases, such as the ‘Beat…
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For example, reading about Congo Square, made me aware of Black American history, and Baldwin’s own identity.
My biggest comprehension problem was Baldwin’s comments on the language used in England. It took several readings to understand that one’s social background and education are reflected in the way one speaks English, and one’s language determines one’s chances of advancement in life.
In his essay, James Baldwin defends the unique form of Black English. He sees it as a mark of identity, and is proud of its difference from mainstream English. He traces the origins of Black English to the despicable tradition of slavery, and states that the language evolved from the need for self-protection, and a common means of communication. He argues that Black English reflects the reality of the Black American experience. Baldwin holds that Black English is a language, not a dialect, and defends its use by Black children in schools. He is scathing in his criticism of those Americans who despise it, and accuses them of
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James Baldwin was born in Harlem, New York on the 24th day of August 1924. Emma Jones, James’ mother, raised her children alone through her meager income as a domestic worker. Emma married David Baldwin by the time James was 3 years old. David Baldwin was a devout Catholic and a preacher.
Opportunities for the blacks were far less in number than those for the whites and blacks’ assistance in several places was denied. Blacks’ entry into the famous restaurants was considered unacceptable. Discrimination was so obvious that many buses would not allow blacks a seat.
He was afraid of the ridicule that would fall upon him if he were to display his affection for men. In particular he was afraid that his father would reject him and even disown him for his feelings. He seems rather confused and does not really understand the exact cause of his feelings towards fellow men and had to force himself to be attracted to women even though he had no such feelings.
This novel also talks about complexities of homophobia, racism, homosexuality and other immoralities prevalent among the society.
The main character discussed in this book is Rufus who was a black musician. The book starts by describing Rufus's last years of life.
Self-acceptance and fear of one's sexuality are both different things, and so they can never be resolved in the same way. A person can lack fear of one's sexuality by openly practicing it, but continues to feel bitter about it. Conversely, a person may accept himself or herself well, but lives a life of fear on what his or her identity might bring.
The community’s Christian norms are strict in such a way that thy lead to depression rather than happiness. John admires his saved elder brother Elisha and gives a negative description of sinners. However, he remembers that he
In the opinion of Schwartz, most people are evaded by happiness because of their incapability to contain stress of life. Additionally, most people are not productive because they tend to hide in the face of reality. In the author’s
different tribes around the world, this made pronunciation of words appear different, likewise this was the first time slang was initiated since English was shaped different by them. James Baldwin pointed out that language is a political tool, means and a proof of power. To
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