Notes From A Native Son Essay

Notes From A Native Son Essay-1
after such a long time is how "current" Baldwin is.That might sound like a cliche, but in so many instances in our lives we learn that some cliches are built on things solid and familiar and timeless.

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One of his challenges was to define what it meant to be a "native son": I know, in any case, that the most crucial time in my own development came when I was forced to recognize that I was a kind of bastard of the West; when I followed the line of my past I did not find myself in Europe but in Africa.

And this meant that in some subtle way, in a really profound way, I brought to Shakespeare, Bach, Rembrandt, to the stones of Paris, to the cathedral at Chartres, and to the Empire State Building, a special attitude. Something like this, anyway, has something to do with my beginnings.

It is a fearful inheritance, for which untold multitudes, long ago, sold their birthright. "My last night in New Jersey, a white friend from New York took me to the nearest big town, Trenton, to go to the movies and have a few drinks.

As it turned out, he also saved me from, at the very least, a violent whipping.

It was a movie about the German occupation of France, starring Maureen O'Hara and Charles Laughton and called .

I remember the name of the diner we walked into when the movie ended: it was the 'American Diner.' When we walked in the counterman asked what we wanted and I remember answering with the casual sharpness which had become my habit: 'We want a hamburger and a cup of coffee, what do you think we want?

The story of my childhood is the usual bleak fantasy, and we can dismiss it with the restrained observation that I certainly would not consider living it again." So begins James Baldwin's autobiographical note to his essay collection came out.

Even so, he told a friend that he thought it was too early in his life for a "memoir." Baldwin wrote elegantly and honestly and passionately about race relations in America, and he did so from a lofty perspective, both self-aware and world-wise.

' I do not know why, after a year of such rebuffs, I so completely failed to anticipate his answer, which was, of course, 'We don't serve Negroes here.' This reply failed to discompose me, at least for the moment.

I made some sardonic comment about the name of the diner and we walked out into the streets." And chaos followed.


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