Baldwin’s Relationship with His Father
James Baldwin’s “Notes of a Native Son” was written during a time of hate and discrimination toward African Americans in the United States. The key themes of the essay are love, hatred, and anger. Baldwin begins his piece by immediately throwing life and death into a parallel twist. On the 29th of July 1943, Baldwin’s youngest sibling was born, and on the same day, his father died. It all seemed too ironic and honestly overwhelming for Baldwin. From these events, Baldwin creates a woven interplay of events that provide insight into his first experience with Jim Crow style segregation, and his experience growing up with a paranoid father.
In the essay, Baldwin described his father as handsome, proud, and ingrown, 'like a toe-nail." Baldwin’s father found it difficult to relate with people, and although he wanted to impress others, he was never successful. His father scared people, kept friends away from the house, and never failed to disappoint, intimidate, or curse his children for being as menaced as him. He had warned Baldwin about the white world outside of Harlem, but Baldwin turned a deaf ear because of his deep-rooted distrust and hatred for him. However, w...