Notes of a Native Son Response

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James Baldwin’s collection of essays called “Notes of a Native Son,” is a story that tells of how society was during racial segregation in the US. Baldwin starts off by describing his father. He was a slave who traveled north; much like many other Negroes did after 1919. Baldwin stated that he never had a real relationship with his father since him as well as his other siblings feared his strict manner. They never really got along, however he continues in the text saying that after his father’s death he began to contemplate and wonder why this was. He came to the retaliation that his father was very paranoid even with his own family. Before his death, he stopped eating food from his family because he believed they were trying to poison him. The rest of his essay speaks of the harsh society during the era of the civil rights movement. His father despised white people and barely ever trusted any of them, which was the stem of his paranoia. Baldwin continues his life and begins to understand where his father’s anger and hatred towards whites came from. A specific line in the essay that basically sums up the Baldwin’s reason for this story would be “I learned in New Jersey that to be a Negro mean, precisely, that one was never looked at but was simply at the mercy of the reflexes the color of one’s skin caused in other people.” What Baldwin means in this statement is that he finally understood the hatred his father had in him towards the whole white against black situation. It gives the impression that he never really knew what the big deal was and that he realized the hardship his father went through which led him to a gloomy and unhappy life. This line is very significant because James Baldwin himself is a black male. He himself also went through discrimination and hardships as a black male, just alike as his father. A thought that went off in my mind as I read
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