James Baldwin Essays And His Lifework “Notes of Native Son”


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James Baldwin was the American citizen by nationality and calling. His heart and minds always belonged to the black Americans, wherever he traveled. Being abroad he devoted all his life to the defense of their interests. The loud protest against Racial Discrimination found its reflection in his works. James was a cult personality. His criticism and healthy hunger for justice could shed the light on many aspects of American life of 20th century. 

Childhood, youth, and new experience in writing

Born in 1924 in New York he was the eldest child in a big family. He had to take care of brothers and sisters as his birth father suffered from the drug addiction. Later his mother married the local preacher. The family suffered from poverty. It was the period to pave its way for success. Being as a child James had complicated relations with his stepfather, whose religiosity and strict character caused misunderstandings in the family. 
Essays by James Baldwin in some degree were copied from his life; he gave an assessment of surrounding, showing racial differences. Very often the author touched sexual aspect. He had never concealed his attitude towards gays and strictly described their way of thinking and social position. Unfavorable circumstances didn’t prevent him from study. He entered the High School and wrote for the local magazine. While working on numerous poems, essays he discovered an extraordinary talent for storytelling. Libraries were the place, which helped to draw inspiration and knowledge for his future works. 
Being 14 year old he followed by his stepfather serving as a young preacher in the Church. That influenced his manner of writing to a great extent; James Baldwin collected essays were rich in quotes and admonishments from the Bible. When he was young Baldwin was eager to change his lifestyle and he got a job on the railway station. Later he came to the center of cultural life Greenwich Village, where continued writing on different topics. James made friends with the famous writer Richard Wright, who helped him to achieve a writer’s grant. In 1948 he moved to Paris seeking for a clearance that could help him to write about American society objectively. After having written numerous articles for magazines, Baldwin came to Switzerland and the public got the first book “Go tell it on the mountain” (1953). It was an autobiographic story, revealing specificities of black boy’s childhood and life with religious stepfather. Obviously that James Baldwin essay is soaked in willingness to change the usual order of things.

“Notes of a Native Son” as a lifework

Ten years passed and Baldwin moved to Istanbul, where in 1955 he wrote his famous work “Notes of a Native Son”. It was a collection of short stories that had been earlier published in different famous magazines. He didn’t afraid of telling truth about warning signs in society. He strongly condemned approval of Racial Discrimination by the ruling authority, but he had never expressed hatred to the white people. The audience was divided up two camps: people who supported that rigid criticism and those who condemned it. In his collected essays “Notes of a Native Son” James Baldwin touched a very important aspects that made him a leading figure in dark-skinned movement. James Baldwin notes of a native son were the mirror, showing an ugly grimace of social inequality. While reading the novel there is the felling that the author was trying to find himself and to figure out his mission clearly.

James wrote his essay “Giovanni's Room” in 1954. The novel described a story about an American man who lived in Paris, and his relations and feelings to Italian man. The question of homosexuality stood out as the main issue. In 1962 in the novel “Another Country” James explored racial relations, another disputed topic at that period. Baldwin never concealed his homosexuality and preference both relations with men and women. He thought that following the strict categories, one can be engaged in the restriction of freedom. 

Bright pages of glory

At the beginning of 1960, feeling the sense of responsibility and duty for the lifework, James Baldwin decided to come back and together with his friends joined the movement, struggling for dark-skinned people. Travelling about the South of the country, he started working on another delicate novel “The fire next time” (1963); it seemed to be another bestselling book, defining James Baldwin as the author of famous Time Magazine.

The last years

Another play “Blues for Mister Charlie” was published in 1964. It was also acted on the Broadway. The glory and confession came to James Baldwin. This same year, his book “Nothing Personal”, was sought after the fans of his talent.

After were killed, Baldwin returned to France. Being disappointed, he didn’t see the meaning of life so he put all his bitter and pain in the essays. 
Even when Baldwin realized there was stagnation in his literary activity, the author kept on writing. Many works were published at that time. He remained an important reviewer of race and American culture. He also was engaged in educational activity. Before his death, he had been sharing his knowledge and experience with the students. James Baldwin died on December 1, 1987 in France. He created deep and insightful works, completing the mission of "fighter for truth”.

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