Baldwin/Orwell Essay

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In the essays “My Dungeon Shook Letter to My Nephew On the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation” by James Baldwin and “ Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell, the authors have very opposing views of those perceived as powerful. Baldwin believes that the powerful have the most influence while Orwell disputes that the powerful may have authority, however, are influenced greatly by the powerless. In “ My Dungeon Shook Letter to My Nephew On the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation” by James Baldwin, Baldwin writes a letter to his nephew encouraging him to be strong and expressing his feelings towards the oppression of African Americans by Caucasians at the time. He makes it clear that the discrimination his nephew suffers are inevitable and the whites are “immovable pillar[s]”, but encourages his nephew to “accept [the whites] with love” (Baldwin) because they know not what they are doing. He expresses that the whites are powerful while the blacks are considered powerless because their race set them down in a “ghetto”, one in which they cannot get out of due to the fact that the whites know what it is right but are “trapped in a history which they do not understand” (Baldwin). Because of that fact, it is difficult for them to change a tradition that they are well aware is wrong. Baldwin hopes that his nephew will receive the white men and forgive their transgressions against the blacks because they are just “lost”(Baldwin). He gives him the painful truth that “it will be hard” (Baldwin), but he must continue on and persevere through the hardship even though he cannot control his fate because ultimately, his fate is in the hands of the whites and all his nephew can do is to stay strong. Baldwin stands firm in the position that Caucasians have all the power and the powerless can do nothing to change that fact because

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