The Imagery And Symbolism In The Notes Of The Native Son
Anger is a form of passion, without personal investment there would be no anger towards a topic. It’s convincing, then, to say anger is often followed by change, without meaning and pain there is no repercussion followed through as change. In the preacher and published writer, James Baldwin’s essay, Notes of Native Son, published in the anthology 50 Essays, by Samuel Cohen, the depth of the point made is regarding his anger and exploration of the meaning behind his paternal relationship. Notes of a Native Son is quite incredible as Baldwin relates his shifty relationship with his father to the relationship between the white and black races, and does so in a storytelling fashion. Though his relationship with his father may be quotidian all his life, as he matures and experiences racism in its true light, he understands his father, and further he understands the relationship between change and social injustice. This argument-critique of Notes of a Native Son will consider how Baldwin relates the story of his relationship with his father to the story of black and white America’s relationship; including a discussion of the relationship between anger and social criticism and change as created through Baldwin’s stubbornness to find acceptance and fight injustice.
As Baldwin takes his audience through stories of his life and his relationship with his father, the reader experiences the harsh lens that Baldwin sees his father through. Though initially, it seems rigid, as he is brutally honest and seemingly unkind about his father’s personality, it shows that Baldwin has both love and resentment for him. The resentment plays into Baldwin’s fear of mental illness being inherent. It also, in an unspoken way, connects the racial oppression that his elders faced with the clear inner turmoil connection. That inner turmoil affects all black Americans and often leads to anger, cruelty, alienation as seen in Baldwin’s father’s personality. The way the reader experiences James’ father’s personality and hardness show how racism can cause people to develop a self-destructive relationship with the world and with white Americans. An example of the tense relationship between white and black America shown in Notes of a Native Son is when James Baldwin received special attention from his white teacher. It was a positive opportunity for him as a young boy to excel forward in something he was interested in, but his father’s mistrust for white people caused the situation to be viewed as threatful. As Baldwin explains “white people would do anything to keep a Negro down”(Cohen 55), and this is why his father could not imagine the teacher being anything besides a threat, and given the extent of racial oppression, you can’t blame him for his paranoia.
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