Baldwin's Life

1133 Words5 Pages
Matthew Reeves Ana Johnston ENGL-1302-3401 February 23, 2012 The Discovery of What It Means to Be an American Growing up as a poor African American in New York City, James Baldwin finds himself isolated from Whites and blacks with questions about self identity. In 1948, disgusted with race relations in the United States, he moved to Paris where he lived, on and off, for the rest of his life. During his travels in Europe he discovers that the limitations that he was bounded by in America were no longer prevalent in European society. Baldwin went to Europe to find out how his experience as a black American "could be made to connect [him] with other people instead of dividing [him] from them." (Baldwin Baldwin saw a way of life that…show more content…
While Living in New York (The New World), Baldwin was fearful of his surroundings. He was unable to cope with the racial tension, and the lack of intellectual stimulation around him. As stated in this quote “we have a very deep-seated distrust of real intellectual effort (probably because we suspect that it will destroy, as I hope it does that myth of America to which we cling so desperately). An American writer fights his way to one of the lowest rungs on the American social ladder by means of pure bull-headedness and an indescribable series of odd jobs. He probably has been a “regular fellow” for much of his adult life, and it is not easy for him to step out of that lukewarm bath.” The society of the new world was one of intellectual bondage, preventing a writer from reaching their full…show more content…
“I was released from the illusion that I hated America.” Through his experiences, he has found a new basis for his life in America. He learnt that his hatred for America was from his lack of knowledge of self worth, which he found in Europe. The most important thing that he gained was the knowledge that his own development was and will always be in his own hands. Most statesmen will unlikely have the time to adventure into Europe and truly understand the old world policies that they are laying down as the law of the land. Without experiencing the full effect of both societies, a statesman is greatly at a disadvantage. To fully appreciate what you have, one must view it from an objective point of view. Politicians and statesmen support issues with a vested interest in the outcome. Most of them are confined to their states or residence, meaning an opportunity to leave the country will never rise. The roles of these men require their continued presence in these areas at all times. They are very reluctant to accept new ideas to solving old problems, believing that the current solution is sufficient
Open Document