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The Literary Works of James Baldwin and its effects on Society Darcy Calhoun Professor Owens English 1102
The Literary Works of James Baldwin and its effects on Society The Author James Baldwin began writing at an early age to escape his abuse and abnormal home. It is through his writing that he became reinvented by becoming someone totally different than what he thought society had predetermined he should be. At the age of fourteen he wrote his first Novel. The effects of his literature are enormous because of the nature of most of his writings: Confronting racism and giving homosexual idealism center stage, while presenting it as if it deserves the same respect and acceptance as if it was a part of the normalcy of civilization. In one of the many reviews written on James Baldwin’s first well known novel “Go Teel it On the Mountain” “Baldwin’s description and depiction of his moral spiritual and sexual struggle of self invention opened possibilities in the American language as in the way Americans understand themselves” (The Dell Publishing Corporation, The Inside Flap 7-10).
The Literary Works of James Baldwin and its effects on Society In this partly fictional novel the author stretches himself beyond who he is and creates a new identity in which he can embrace. However, the novel itself gives a vivid picture of the environment in which he lived: “being beaten by police and found innocent” (Wiki media, Plot summary). In addition the novel gives the insight to how he viewed the Church as contradictory and living as hipocrits. He was able to buck the familiar religion of the Church which he learned and decide to live contradictory to belief taught. Yet, because of the influence of a zealous Pentecostal step father he preached for a limited period of time at the age of fourteen. Because of all the people around him he decided to remake himself into what felt right even if it was against mainstream America. Many thought that James Baldwin ahead of his time, and it is obvious this is true. During the 1950’s before homosexuality behavior is mainstream on any level In the black community: “His life goal was to make a safe place for the black, gay , and impoverished considered outsiders in their own country(America)” (African American Review, By Aliyyayah I. AburRahman 1).
The Literary Works of James Baldwin and its effects on Society Now that the time has gone it is as if Baldwin knew he was writing for a future among writers often put aside because of their views but who remained true to themselves. Time Magazine posts the picture of an Author: “Any writer feels the world he was born into is a conspiracy against the very talent he is cultivating” (James Baldwin, “Autobiographical notes from The Native Son). Baldwin wrote most of the articles in Notes of the Native son in the 40’s and 50’s. It was during this time that the Civil Rights movement began to gain support. Not only did the notes: “Establish Baldwin as one of the leaders in understanding the social upheaval of his time but today as well” (E notes, Notes of a Native Son). Most of the information written in the Notes was given in order that people or society would analyze racism and come to some understanding as to what is lacking in a behavior of this type. So with this in mind the note were written to also show behaviors and acts that he was subjected to first hand with the for thought that words light up the dark and bring change. The Note also contained political views of the progressive Party which many believe to be in power today in the establishment currently in the white house.
The Literary Works of James Baldwin and its effects on Society The landscape of today is very different than the past. Regardless, of the persecution and people who came against him Baldwin pressed on and became a person of great influence in civil rights as well as gay rights. Although most of his opinions and views at times were expressed from a distance (France), it was simply because in America his ideas and beliefs were not accepted as mainstream until now. His writing has made great strides and the effects are seen in the culture of today’s society through his literature. Even today he is Quoted for his controversial stances on sexuality and the mistreatment of the black man in America. In the curriculum at Yale New Haven Teachers Institute some of MrBaldwin’S literature is recommended for Social Studies during black history month. Hampshire College in Amherst established programs and outreaches honoring Baldwin who taught there at one time. “In 2002, MolefiKete Asante listed Baldwin as one of the greatest African Americans” (Wikipedia free library p6).
The Literary Works of James Baldwin and its effects on Society Yes, despite the problems he had getting acceptance from his peers in the past his works are used on a consistent basis in many College Literary classes all over the world at this very moment. He imposed his beliefs as well as literature and it is more embraced now more than ever by several institutions and scholars. Other writings by James Baldwin include “Giovani’s Room” a work written that confronts the secret unconventional desires he has for himself. It has been called classical Gay literature by the “Book Jacket” (pge5).
The Literary Works of James Baldwin and its effects on Society This material has more to do with his effect on society, because with his desensitizing writings on homosexual relationships that were so forbidden when he wrote them, he did not know how accepted they would be in this day and age. Now most of his writings and works regarding sexuality portrayed by same gender relationships is considered normal. It is possible that his legacy contributed a great deal to the new thought of equality for all people regardless of sexual preference. When we look at the people of affluence this day I see agreement with much of his doctrine: A President that supports gay rights, some gay couples allowed marriage with same sex partners in several states. In fact, one of the states that allowed this is Massachussetts, which is the place James Baldwin lived and practiced his craft in. I see a pattern, people evolving from the mundane grit of inclusiveness to the forefront of society.
The Literary Works of James Baldwin and its effects on Society James Baldwin did not invent these thoughts or behavior, they were merely suppressed by a conservative majority which presently is in danger of losing all hope and ability to shine. Which is similar to the happenings of the church folks depicted in James Baldwin Novel “Go tell it On The Mountain”. Simply put the moral upright folks have fallen into the mire and become as dirty as the leftists of the liberal party. In some of the literature which critics critique the works of James Baldwin: “It is written that the Civil Rights movement was birthed out of Communism” (1). I believe that Baldwin had a great deal of influence with his literature on the movers and shakers involved in Civil Rights, as well as the now present sexual revolution.
The Literary Works of James Baldwin and its effects on Society Although James Baldwin is the pin up black man for pro homosexual tolerance of his day, there is no mistake that he also was a dominant person of support for equal rights for black people and minorities of all colors. It is evident in all his work attacking mainstream white America: “I was beaten by white cops, and I do not pray to the white god” (WK1 Notes1). However, many of his works did not have the notoriety he expected because of his controversial views and beliefs. Under the surface beneath the dirt behind the curtains people are and were accepting his doctrine which is ever present this day.
The Literary Works of James Baldwin and its effects on Society The works of James Baldwin is ever present in this nation revealing the past and establishing the future through his literature. The Movie “Roots” by Alex Haley featured many themes from “Go Tell It on The Mountain”. Also, in “2005 the United States Post Office created a stamp with his picture to honor him because of his short biography Sunny Blues” (Wikia 1). He began his career writing to escape the world around him and created a new identity for himself with his literature. Because of the flaws of the people around him he embraced a movement to attack the majority. Baldwin lost his faith in a moral society and felt as though people should embrace folks regardless of differences sexually, economically, and culturally regardless of standing, this to him was being accountable to your fellow human being.
The Literary Works of James Baldwin and its effects on Society Even the paper that James Baldwin wrote on knows that a lot of time was wasted on trying to change the society he lived in to get the effect he wanted. No, his writings effectively help society change, but for the worse, when he could have been someone known for being about what’s right regardless of how it felt to him. Instead of staying in Church and following his Fathers directions he rebelled against the moralities he was taught and embraced the anger that seized his very being. Although He is known for several literary works, it is his sexuality that is more familiar than anything else to scholars and teachers of literature. He is known as the first black homosexual writer of his time, even though a nation would come to terms with his doctrine when it caught up to the times we live in.
Sites: Boyd, Herb. A Biography of James Baldwin. http://aalbc.com/authors/james.htm Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute How the African American Story teller Impacts the Black family and Society, by Barbbara P. Moss http:www.cis.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/guides/1990 Enotes/Random Critics of James Baldwin http://www.enotes.com/contemporary-literary-criticism/baldwin-james-vol-127 Beneath the aesthetic: James Baldwin”s primer of Black America masculinity-African American Review, Summer, 1998 by Andrew Shin, Barbara Hudson Aliyyah I AburRahman “Simply a Menaced Boy” Undoing Dominance by James Baldwin—http://find articles .com http://www literature.glbtq.com//Baldwin_j.html Wikipedia,DiscussionTrudia Brown http://en.wikpedia.org/wiki/james_Baldwin(writer) http://unnews.unc.edu/content/views