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James Baldwin Giovanni's Room - Essay Example

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Summary
The novel revolves around the life of David, a white American in his late 30s, who had numerous affairs both with men and women. It is not clear whether both David and Giovanni can be classified as homosexuals because of these varied affairs. Nevertheless, the novel reveals about David's struggle to accepting himself and rejecting the fear of his own sexuality.
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James Baldwin Giovannis Room
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James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room The novel revolves around the life of David, a white American in his late 30s, who had numerous affairs both with menand women. It is not clear whether both David and Giovanni can be classified as homosexuals because of these varied affairs. Nevertheless, the novel reveals about David's struggle to accepting himself and rejecting the fear of his own sexuality.
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 former is an internal and personal issue, while the latter is an external and cultural issue.
Actions speak louder than words is almost clich in the novel. Lack of self-acceptance and fear of his sexuality is explicitly demonstrated by David all throughout his life. His first encounter with discovering his sexual orientation started when he was a boy. He had an affair in Brooklyn with his friend named Joey; they kissed and made love to each other. The next day, he bullied him just to feel that he is dominant and is a real man. The action clearly states that he was not ready to accept that he likes boys, and maybe, he was also afraid that he might get teased by his friends. This action is common among children, because fatherly and motherly roles reinforce a clear distinction between manly and womanly roles. Furthermore, in a conservative culture like that of Brooklyn, such orientation is near to banned. But David's past does not end there, for it haunted him until his adult life. He started drinking and driving in order to forget. He moved from America to France to eliminate those painful memories and renew his life. Finally, he decided to commit his life to Hella, a woman, her girlfriend. Fight or flee Obviously, David decided to solve his problems - both his fear and lack of self-acceptance - through running away. All his life, he hoped to change the past and to live a "normal" life, and this grew more evident upon meeting Giovanni, an Italian, his friend and his lover.
David and Giovanni have many things in common. They both ran away from home to forget about their "ugly" pasts. Both have or had girlfriend and sexual affairs with men and women. Indeed, Giovanni's room served as a metaphor for their shared lives. In the novel, the room was described as small and squalor, in spite of a decent and goodly neighborhood. It is dark with lots of curtains, its walls covered with a picture of a hoop-skirted lady and man in knee breeches surrounded by roses, and trash and garbages are seen everywhere. Metaphorically, both David and Giovanni perceives themselves as people who can never make a difference, people who would rather hide behind the wallpapers of a well-defined social life, for their life is full of dirt and shame. They perform their true lives behind thick curtains, deprive of public view and criticisms. Yet behind their seemingly dirty lives, they had hope. Both of them tried to renew and renovate the room. They were aware of the mess in their lives and they are eager to clean it together. These actions are optimistic, yet it never came true because of Giovanni's execution.
The novel is tragic in the sense that the pure love between the two, however distasteful in their cultural values, once found, remains to be a dead end. The death of Giovanni's first boy in Italy is a case in point. It served as a foreshadow of his future life in France. David accepts this badly. Giovanni's optimism was the best thing that happened in David's life. Through him, and their seemingly fruitless attempt to renew their lives together, he finds solution to his long-time problem. Not surprisingly, at the end, he accepted his "fate" instead and continued to live the life behind the wallpapers. Read More
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