Fifth Avenue, Uptown

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Published in the July 1960 issue

There is a housing project standing now where the house in which we grew up once stood, and one of those stunted city trees is snarling where our doorway used to be. This is on the rehabilitated side of the avenue. The other side of the avenue -- for progress takes time -- has not been rehabilitated yet and it looks exactly as it looked in the days when we sat with our noses pressed against the windowpane, longing to be allowed to go "across the street." The grocery store which gave us credit is still there, and there can be no doubt that it is still giving credit. The people in the project certainly need it -- far more, indeed, than they ever needed the project. The last time I passed by, the Jewish proprietor was still standing among his shelves, looking sadder and heavier but scarcely any older. Further down the block stands the shoe-repair store in which our shoes were repaired until reparation became impossible and in which, then, we bought all our "new" ones. The Negro proprietor is still in the window, head down, working at the leather.

These two, I imagine, could tell a long tale if they would (perhaps they would be glad to if they could), having watched so many, for so long, struggling in the fishhooks, the barbed wire, of this avenue.

The avenue is elsewhere the renowned and elegant Fifth. The area I am describing, which, in today's gang parlance, would be called "the turf," is bounded by Lenox Avenue on the west, the Harlem River on the east, 135th Street on the north, and 130th Street on the south. We never lived beyond these boundaries; this is where we grew up. Walking along 145th Street -- for example -- familiar as it is, and similar, does not have the same impact because I do not know any of the people on the block. But when I turn east on 131st Street and Lenox Avenue, there is first a soda-pop joint, then a shoeshine "parlor," then a grocery store, then a dry cleaners', then the houses. All along the street there are people who watched me grow up, people who grew up with me, people I watched grow up along with my brothers and sisters; and, sometimes in my arms, sometimes underfoot, sometimes at my shoulder -- or on it -- their children, a riot, a forest of children, who include my nieces and nephews.

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The original story, in the July 1960 edition of Esquire

When we reach the end of this long block, we find ourselves on wide, filthy, hostile Fifth Avenue, facing that project which hangs over the avenue like a monument to the folly, and the cowardice, of good intentions. All along the block, for anyone who knows it, are immense human gaps, like craters. These gaps are not created merely by those who have moved away, inevitably into some other ghetto; or by those who have risen, almost always into a greater capacity for self-loathing and self-delusion; or yet by those who, by whatever means -- War II, the Korean War, a policeman's gun or billy, a gang war, a brawl, madness, an overdose of heroin, or, simply, unnatural exhaustion -- are dead. I am talking about those who are left, and I am talking principally about the young. What are they doing? Well, some, a minority, are fanatical churchgoers, members of the more extreme of the Holy Roller sects. Many, many more are "moslems," by affiliation or sympathy, that is to say that they are united by nothing more -- and nothing less -- than a hatred of the white world and all its works. They are present, for example, at every Buy Black street-corner meeting -- meetings in which the speaker urges his hearers to cease trading with white men and establish a separate economy. Neither the speaker nor his hearers can possibly do this, of course, since Negroes do not own General Motors or RCA or the A&P, nor, indeed, do they own more than a wholly insufficient fraction of anything else in Harlem (those who do own anything are more interested in their profits than in their fellows). But these meetings nevertheless keep alive in the participators a certain pride of bitterness without which, however futile this bitterness may be, they could scarcely remain alive at all. Many have given up. They stay home and watch the TV screen, living on the earnings of their parents, cousins, brothers, or uncles, and only leave the house to go to the movies or to the nearest bar. "How're you making it?" one may ask, running into them along the block, or in the bar. "Oh, I'm TV-ing it" ; with the saddest, sweetest, most shamefaced of smiles, and from a great distance. This distance one is compelled to respect; anyone who has traveled so far will not easily be dragged again into the world. There are further retreats, of course, than the TV screen or the bar. There are those who are simply sitting on their stoops, "stoned," animated for a moment only, and hideously, by the approach of someone who may lend them the money for a "fix." Or by the approach of someone from whom they can purchase it, one of the shrewd ones, on the way to prison or just coming out.

And the others, who have avoided all of these deaths, get up in the morning and go downtown to meet "the man." They work in the white man's world all day and come home in the evening to this fetid block. They struggle to instill in their children some private sense of honor or dignity which will help the child to survive. This means, of course, that they must struggle, stolidly, incessantly, to keep this sense alive in themselves, in spite of the insults, the indifference, and the cruelty they are certain to encounter in their working day. They patiently browbeat the landlord into fixing the heat, the plaster, the plumbing; this demands prodigious patience; nor is patience usually enough. In trying to make their hovels habitable, they are perpetually throwing good money after bad. Such frustration, so long endured, is driving many strong, admirable men and women whose only crime is color to the very gates of paranoia.

One remembers them from another time -- playing handball in the playground, going to church, wondering if they were going to be promoted at school. One remembers them going off to war -- gladly, to escape this block. One remembers their return. Perhaps one remembers their wedding day. And one sees where the girl is now -- vainly looking for salvation from some other embittered, trussed, and struggling boy -- and sees the all-but-abandoned children in the streets.

Now I am perfectly aware that there are other slums in which white men are fighting for their lives, and mainly losing. I know that blood is also flowing through those streets and that the human damage there is incalculable. People are continually pointing out to me the wretchedness of white people in order to console me for the wretchedness of blacks. But an itemized account of the American failure does not console me and it should not console anyone else. That hundreds of thousands of white people are living, in effect, no better than the "niggers" is not a fact to be regarded with complacency. The social and moral bankruptcy suggested by this fact is of the bitterest, most terrifying kind.

The people, however, who believe that this democratic anguish has some consoling value are always pointing out that So-and-So, white, and So-and-So, black, rose from the slums into the big time. The existence -- the public existence -- of, say, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. proves to them that America is still the land of opportunity and that inequalities vanish before the determined will. It proves nothing of the sort. The determined will is rare -- at the moment, in this country, it is unspeakably rare -- and the inequalities suffered by the many are in no way justified by the rise of a few. A few have always risen -- in every country, every era, and in the teeth of regimes which can by no stretch of the imagination be thought of as free. Not all these people, it is worth remembering, left the world better than they found it. The determined will is rare, but it is not invariably benevolent. Furthermore, the American equation of success with the big time reveals an awful disrespect for human life and human achievement. This equation has placed our cities among the most dangerous in the world and has placed our youth among the most empty and most bewildered. The situation of our youth is not mysterious. Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them. They must, they have no other models. That is exactly what our children our doing. They are imitating our immortality, our disrespect for the pain of others.

All other slum dwellers, when the bank account permits it, can move out of the slum and vanish altogether from the eye of persecution. No Negro in this country has ever made that much money and it will be a long time before any Negro does. The Negroes in Harlem, who have no money, spend what they have on such gimcracks as they are sold. These include "wider" TV screens, more "faithful" hi-fi sets more "powerful" cars, all of which, of course, are obsolete long before they are paid for. Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor; and if one is a member of a captive population, economically speaking, one's feet have simply been placed on the treadmill forever. One is victimized, economically, in a thousand ways -- rent, for example, or car insurance. Go shopping one day in Harlem -- for anything -- and compare Harlem prices and quality with those downtown.

The people who have managed to get off this block have only got as far as a more respectable ghetto. This respectable ghetto does not even have the advantages of the disreputable one, friends, neighbors, a familiar church, and friendly tradesman; and it is not, more over, in the nature of any ghetto to remain respectable long. Every Sunday, people who have left the block take the lonely ride back, dragging their increasingly discontented children with them. They spend the day talking, not always with words, about the trouble they've seen and the trouble -- one must watch their eyes as they watch their children -- they are only too likely to see. For children do not like ghettos. It takes them nearly no time to discover exactly why they are there.

The projects in Harlem are hated. They are hated almost as much as policemen, and this is saying a great deal. And they are hated for the same reason: both reveal, unbearably, the real attitude of the white world, no matter how many liberal speeches are made, no matter how many lofty editorials are written, no matter how many civil rights commissions are set up.

The projects are hideous, of course, there being a law, apparently respected throughout the world, that popular housing shall be as cheerless as a prison. They are lumped all over Harlem, colorless, bleak, high, and revolting. The wide windows look out on Harlem's invincible and indescribable squalor: the Park Avenue railroad tracks, around which, about forty years ago, the present dark community began; the unrehabilitated houses, bowed down, it would seem, under the great weight of frustration and bitterness they contain; the dark, the ominous schoolhouses, from which the child may emerge maimed, blinded, hooked, or enraged for life; and the churches, churches, block upon block of churches, niched in the walls like cannon in the walls of a fortress. Even if the administration of the projects were not so insanely humiliating (for example: one must report raises in salary to the management, which will then eat up the profit by raising one's rent; the management has the right to know who is staying in your apartment; the management can ask you to leave, at their discretion), the projects would still be hated because they are an insult to the meanest intelligence.

Harlem got its first private project, Riverton -- which is now, naturally, a slum -- about twelve years ago because at that time Negroes were not allowed to live in Stuyvesant Town. Harlem watched Riverton go up, therefore, in the most violent bitterness of spirit, and hated it long before the builders arrived. They began hating it at about the time people began moving out of their condemned houses to make room for this additional proof of how thoroughly the white world despised them. And they had scarcely moved in, naturally, before they began smashing windows, defacing walls, urinating in the elevators, and fornicating in the playgrounds. Liberals, both white and black, were appalled at the spectacle. I was appalled by the liberal innocence -- or cynicism, which comes out in practice as much the same thing. Other people were delighted to be able to point to proof positive that nothing could be done to better the lot of the colored people. They were, and are, right in one respect: that nothing can be done as long as they are treated like colored people. The people in Harlem know they are living there because white people do not think they are good enough to live anywhere else. No amount of "improvement" can sweeten this fact. Whatever money is now being earmarked to improve this, or any other ghetto, might as well be burnt. A ghetto can be improved in one way only: out of existence.

Similarly, the only way to police a ghetto is to be oppressive. None of commissioner Kennedy's policemen, even with the best will in the world, have any way of understanding the lives led by the people they swagger about in two's and three's controlling. Their very presence is an insult, and it would be, even if they spent their entire day feeding gumdrops to children. They represent the force of the white world, and that world's real intentions are, simply, for that world's criminal profit and ease, to keep the black man corralled up here, in his place. The badge, the gun in the holster, and the swinging club make vivid what will happen should his rebellion become overt. Rare, indeed, is the Harlem citizen, from the most circumspect church member to the most shiftless adolescent, who does not have a long tale to tell of police incompetence, injustice, or brutality. I myself have witnessed and endured it more than once. The businessman and racketeers also have a story. And so do the prostitutes. (And this is not, perhaps, the place to discuss Harlem's very complex attitude towards black policemen, nor the reasons, according to Harlem, that they are nearly all downtown.)

It is hard, on the other hand, to blame the policeman, blank, good-natured, thoughtless, and insuperably innocent, for being such a perfect representative of the people he serves. He, too, believes in good intentions and is astounded and offended when they are not taken for the deed. He has never, himself, done anything for which to be hated -- which of us has? -- and yet he is facing, daily and nightly, people who would gladly see him dead, and he knows it. There is no way for him not to know it: there are few other things under heaven more unnerving than the silent, accumulating contempt and hatred of a people. He moves through Harlem, therefore, like an occupying soldier in a bitterly hostile country; which is precisely what, and where, he is, and is the reason he walks in two's and three's. And he is not the only one who knows why he is always in company: the people who are watching him know why, too. Any street meeting, sacred or secular, which he and his colleagues uneasily cover has as its explicit or implicit burden the cruelty and injustice of the white domination. And these days, of course, in terms increasingly vivid and jubilant, it speaks of the end of that domination. The white policeman, standing on a Harlem street corner, finds himself at the very center of the revolution now occurring in the world. He is not prepared for it -- naturally, nobody is -- and, what is possibly much more to the point, he is exposed, as few white people are, to the anguish of the black people around him. Even if he is gifted with the merest mustard grain of imagination, something must seep in. He cannot avoid observing that some of the children, in spite of their color, remind him of children he has known and loved, perhaps even of his own children. He knows that he certainly does not want his children living this way. He can retreat from his uneasiness in only one direction: into a callousness which very shortly becomes second nature. He becomes more callous, the population becomes more hostile, the situation grows more tense, and the police force is increased. One day, to everyone's astonishment, someone drops a match in the powder keg and everything blows up. Before the dust has settled or the blood congealed, editorials, speeches, and civil-rights commissions are loud in the land, demanding to know what happened. What happened is that Negroes want to be treated like men.

Negroes want to be treated like men: a perfectly straightforward statement, containing only seven words. People who have mastered Kant, Hegel, Shakespeare, Marx, Freud, and the bible find this statement utterly impenetrable. The idea seems to threaten profound, barely conscious assumptions. A kind of panic paralyzes their features, as though they found themselves trapped on the edge of a steep place. I once tried to describe to a very-well-known American intellectual the conditions among Negroes in the South. My recital disturbed him and made him indignant; and he asked me in perfect innocence, "Why don't all the Negroes in the South move North?" I tried to explain what has happened, unfailingly, whenever a significant body of Negroes move North. They do not escape jim crow: they merely encounter another, not-less-deadly variety. They do not move to Chicago, they move to the South Side; they do note move to New York, they move to Harlem. The pressure within the ghetto causes the ghetto walls to expand, and this expansion is always violent. White people hold the line as long as they can, and in as many ways as they can, from verbal intimidation to physical violence. But inevitably the border which has divided the ghetto from the rest of the world falls into the hands of the ghetto. The white people fall back bitterly before the black horde; the landlords make a tidy profit by raising the rent, chopping up the rooms, and all but dispensing with the upkeep; and what has once been a neighborhood turns into a "turf." This is precisely what happened when the Puerto Ricans arrived in their thousands -- and the bitterness thus caused is, as I write, being fought out all up and down those streets.

Northerners indulge in an extremely dangerous luxury. They seem to feel that because they fought on the right side during the Civil War, and won, that they have earned the right merely to deplore what is going on in the South, without taking any responsibility for it; and that they can ignore what is happening in Northern cities because what is happening in Little Rock or Birmingham is worse. Well, in the first place, it is not possible for anyone who has not endured both to know which is "worse." I know Negroes who prefer the South and white Southerners, because "At least there, you haven't got to play any guessing games!" The guessing games referred to have driven more than one Negro into the narcotics ward, the madhouse, or the river. I know another Negro, a man very dear to me, who says, with conviction and with truth, "The spirit of the South is the spirit of America." He was born in the North and did his military training in the South. He did not, as far as I can gather, find the South "worse"; he found it, if anything, all too familiar. In the second place, though, even if Birmingham is worse, no doubt Johannesburg, South Africa, beats it by several miles, and Buchenwald was one of the worst things that ever happened in the entire history of the world. The world has never lacked for horrifying examples; but I do not believe that these examples are meant to be used as justification for our own crimes. This perpetual justification empties the heart of all human feeling. The emptier our hearts become, the greater will be our crimes. Thirdly, the South is not merely an embarrassingly backward region, but a part of this country, and what happens there concerns every one of us.

As far as the color problem is concerned, there is but one great difference between the Southern white and the Northerner: the Southerner remembers, historically, and in his own psyche, a kind of Eden in which he loved black people and they loved him. Historically, the flaming sword laid across this Eden is the Civil War. Personally, it is the Southerner's sexual coming of age, when, without any warning, unbreakable taboos are set up between himself and his past. Everything, thereafter, is permitted him except the love he remembers and has never ceased to need. The resulting, indescribable torment affects every Southern mind and is the basis of the Southern hysteria.

None of this is true for the Northerner. Negroes represent nothing to him personally, except, perhaps, the dangers of carnality. He never sees Negroes. Southerners see them all the time. Northerners never think about them whereas Southerners are never really thinking of anything else. Negroes are, therefore, ignored in the North and are under surveillance in the South, and suffer hideously in both places. Neither the Southerner nor the Northerner is able to look on the Negro simply as a man. It seems to be indispensable to the national self-esteem that the Negro be considered either as a kind of ward (in which case we are told how many Negroes, comparatively, bought Cadillacs last year and how few, comparatively, were lynched), or as a victim (in which case we are promised that he will never vote in our assemblies or go to school with our kids). They are two sides of the same coin and the South will not change -- cannot change -- until the North changes. The country will not change until it re-examines itself and discovers what it really means by freedom. In the meantime, generations keep being born, bitterness is increased by competence, pride, and folly, and the world shrinks around us.

It is a terrible, an inexorable, law that one cannot deny the humanity of another without diminish one's own: in the face of one's victim, one sees oneself. Walk through the streets of Harlem and see what we, this nation, have become.

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James Baldwin's Fifth Avenue, Uptown Essay example

James baldwin's narration and analysis in notes of a native son.

  • 1 Works Cited

There is a very thin line between love and hate in James Baldwin’s essay “Notes of a Native Son.” Throughout this essay James Baldwin continually makes references to life and death, blacks and whites, and love and hate. He uses his small experiences to explain a much larger, more complicated picture of life. From the first paragraph of the essay to the last paragraph, Baldwin continually makes connections on his point of view on life; beginning with the day his father died, to the time that his father was buried. James Baldwin is an outstanding author, who creatively displays his ability to weave narration and analysis throughout his essays.

Essay about Baldwin's Writing Style in Notes to a Native Son

James Baldwin is known to be one of the best essay writers in the twentieth century who wrote on a few topics including race, discrimination, sexuality and most of all his personal experiences. In “Notes of a Native Son”, he uses two main strategies to get his point across. First, he likes to tell a story in a narrative view. Following is normally his analysis of the event. He describes the event and then gives his theory on the matter. By doing this, he grants the reader a chance to decipher the meaning. His interpretation may not be what the reader’s is. He likes to argue and provides the basis for his argument in “Notes of a Native Son”. Throughout the essay he talks about himself and his father,

Analysis Of My Dungeon Shook, By James Baldwin

On one hand James Baldwin is addressing his letter to his nephew, but on the other hand the text is also applicable to the entire black community who is oppressed by society; and to the whites who need to recognize the need for equality. Baldwin addresses the letter to the teenager, James, and additionally descriptively clarifies how this deadly situation applies to many dark-skinned men. Contrastingly, the novelist realizes how the privileged population will hear this message as well, which Baldwin makes clear when he metaphorically states, “I hear the chorus of the innocents screaming, ‘No! This is not true! How bitter you are!’”(Baldwin

Analysis Of James Baldwin's Talk To Teachers

Baldwin strategically uses the first, second, and third person to strengthen his message and instill a sense of responsibility in his audience. The first instance of this technique occurs when Baldwin uses the first person to recount “[his] first sight of New York” (Baldwin 125). About halfway through this description he transitions into the second person, substituting “you” for “I” and “me” to put his audience into his position of living in a society that “is rich” but in which “none of [it] is for you” (Baldwin 125). In the next two paragraphs he further transitions into the third person to show how this society instills in a person “an absolutely inarticulate and dangerous rage”, which causes them to become “a kind of criminal” because lawbreaking is a necessity in a society whose laws are not designed for your benefit or even your

Rhetorical Analysis Of James Baldwin's Notes Of A Native Son

Baldwin uses the experiences he faced in New Jersey and the personal relationship with his father to show ethos throughout his essay. At one point in his essay, Baldwin finds himself in New Jersey where segregation still exist. “I learned in New Jersey…one was never looked at but was simply at the mercy of the reflexes the color of one’s skin caused in other people” (68). Here Baldwin expresses how circumstances in New Jersey were like at the time, but also portrays the way people were viewed based on the color of their skin. Baldwin later goes on to mention the year he spent in New Jersey, was the year in which “[he] first contracted some dread, chronic disease” (70). This “disease” Baldwin contracted is not an actual disease, but more of a way in which he begins to feel and see the world around him differently. The disease Baldwin is referring to throughout his entire essay is bitterness. Living in New Jersey caused Baldwin to gain the sense of bitterness that his father had lived with during his life. Baldwin’s bitterness comes from the way he was specifically treated in New Jersey and how he allowed that feeling to affect his behaviors. Baldwin specifically mentions the moment in New Jersey where the white waitress approaches him at the restaurant stating, “We don’t serve Negroes here” (71). At this point we begin to see Baldwin as he acts out in violence by stating, “I wanted her to come close enough for me to get her neck

Themes In Ta-Nehisi CoatsBetween The World And Me

Baldwin determines that violence and racial separatism are not acceptable solutions for achieving “power”. Baldwin believes that black people will only be able to achieve lasting influence in America if they love and accept white people. In contrast, writing 52 years after Baldwin, Coats tells his own son to “struggle” but not

Literary Analysis Of James Baldwin's Notes Of A Native Son

The passage reveals the difficult relationship which Baldwin had with his father. He says “When he died I had been away from home for a little over a year” (222). Baldwin had not been living with his father which caused them to become even more distant from each other. Also, on page 221 he says, “When he was dead I realized that I had hardly ever spoken to him” which shows that the two didn’t like to converse with each other. Baldwin also describes his father as “the most bitter man” and “indescribably cruel” (221). And he uses repetition of the word bitter throughout the essay. His description of his father shows that his father wasn’t a kind father which made their relationship challenging. And also shows that Baldwin had a negative image of his father. This negative image came from the resentment his father held towards people. Furthermore, Baldwin discloses how other family members reacted to his father’s death. He says, “The younger children felt, quite simply, relief that he would not be coming home anymore” (222) this reveals that the father’s death brought liberation for the family. They felt that they had been liberated from the hatred their father had towards whites. They felt

An Analysis Of A Native Son By James Baldwin And Letter From Birmingham Jail

King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” discusses the topic of segregation and just and unjust laws, whereas Baldwin in his “Notes of a Native Son” places an emphasis on relationships, particularly the relationship between his father and him. Additionally, Baldwin discusses the impact of racism on the lives of African Americans during that time. Although these essays are dated back over fifty years ago; the topics discussed in them are still very common today.

Baldwin's Effects of Narration and Analysis in Notes of a Native Son

Personal stories and descriptions of major events are narrated throughout James Baldwin’s works as he analyzes the nature of the relationship between white and black America. The marriage of narration and analysis are especially evident in Baldwin’s essay, “Notes of a Native Son.” As Baldwin describes his father and their relationship until his father’s death, he simultaneously comments about the relationship between white and black America. Baldwin compares the events of his experience with concurrent American events to conclude about the nature of his personal relationships and the relationship between races; namely, that one must come to accept the

Analysis of James Baldwin's 'My Dungeon Shook: A Letter to my Nephew'

African Americans have to strive extremely hard to be successful and obtain a place in America. When reading Baldwin’s statement it seems much like Martin Luther King Jr. statement: “One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land”(3). African Americans are trying to obtain their place in American society but are restricted to the area that the white Americans set aside for them. Both Martin Luther King Jr. and James Baldwin are striving to make a difference to better America by publicly sharing their emotions.

Overcoming Adversity In Sonny's Blues By James Baldwin

Reilly, John M. ""Sonny's Blues": James Baldwin's Image of Black Community." Negro American Literature Forum 4.2 (1970): 56-60. Web. Sherard, Tracey. "

James Baldwin Notes Of A Native Son Summary

Throughout the entire essay, Baldwin uses his circumstances to make you feel sympathy towards him as an author. In one part of his works he tells the awful account of his father’s mental illness. When telling the audience what he had went through, at the age of 19, someone reading this, might say that brings them sympathy, while his tone in passages where he explains these sad expressions are unattached. He writes, “…In the morning the telegram came saying he was dead. Then the house was full of relatives, friends, hysteria, and confusion…” Here, he plainly states the facts of how his house was after his father’s death but does not describe how he feels about the people being in his house or the emotional toll his father’s death has taken on him. This is just one aspect of

Rhetorical Strategies Used In A Talk To Teachers By James Baldwin

In the last paragraph, he begins by saying “And on the basis of the evidence – the moral and political evidence – one is compelled to say that this is a backward society.” The repetition in the appositive of ‘evidence’ appears to further emphasize the importance of this evidence and its effects on the education of African Americans. Again, all throughout the last paragraph, Baldwin uses a type of repetition, anaphora. He repeats “I would…”, which emphasize what he himself would do. These hortative sentences call the audience to action, to empower young African american’s everywhere. These sentences can also be considered parallelism, as well as the repeated use of “teach” in many of these

The American Dream By James Baldwin

Baldwin opens his argument acknowledging the distortion of segregation for the segregationists. According to Baldwin, people who, since birth, have been taught to think a certain way towards the African American race. “The white South African or Mississippi sharecropper or Alabama sheriff has at bottom a system of reality which compels them really to believe when they face the Negro that this

Brief Summary Of Stranger In The Village By James Baldwin

“When, beneath the black mask, a human being begins to make himself felt one cannot escape a certain awful wonder as to what kind of human being it is.”(4). In his essay, “Stranger in the Village”, James Baldwin writes about the major differences that African Americans experience in Europe and America. Throughout the essay, Baldwin describes how the Europeans are naive about the black man. The outrage and amusement that Baldwin feels throughout his visit causes the overwhelming realization of the history of the African American.

James Baldwin's Fifth Avenue, Uptown

james baldwin fifth avenue uptown essay

Show More James Baldwin's "Fifth Avenue, Uptown" (rpt. In Santi V. Buscemi and Charlotte Smith, 75 Readings Plus 10th ed. [New York: McGraw Hill, 2013] 50-52) provides readers with a graphic perspective of a city that existed in the 1940s; the time period prior to the Harlem we now know. The diction Baldwin uses to describe the various aspects of his childhood Harlem leads the reader to infer that in these times there is immense poverty and disunion in society. In other famous pieces of literature, the city of Harlem is portrayed as this area booming with African American Culture and its beloved Jazz Music, however Baldwin shows us the other side of the coin through his memories of the city in which he lived. Baldwin begins his tale by focusing on …show more content… A class of people who work nonstop and persevere over the injustices of their surroundings in order to succeed, this is what the people of Harlem city are like in my mind. And to some extent, this is what Baldwin showcases towards the end of his story. Furthermore, the supposedly glorious Harlem is said to instill paranoia into the strong and admirable men and women whose only crime is color (52). Despite the streets being filled with youngsters running around playing handball and going to church one could not ignore the inevitable truth of the city and its ruins. Baldwin brings attention to the dark side of Harlem, which is surprising, since few authors speak on this. In conclusion Baldwin creates an image of the real Harlem that is quite diverse from the prior image I had of this city. He sheds light on the segregation and he differentiates the various groups of youth that make the city what it is. I believed this city to be full of men and women who left landmarks, and full life and freedom for the African American community, but the truth is that it faced its struggles just like any other part of America in this time

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The audience that Baldwin is addressing is James, his nephew. The letter is a warning for James and a guide to help him endure the life he is being thrown into. However the warning is not just for James, but also black youths in general growing up in the same time period. The letter sets up an idea of what life will be like for James living in a world where the odds will forever be against him. James will be confined into ghettos and buried with limits to what he can do with his life.…

The Struggle Of African Americans In Faulkner's Arc Of Justice

Arc of Justice Analysis The amounts of themes that can be taken from this terrific book are abundant. The story makes the reader really feel and understand the struggles that the African American people faced during the 1920’s. The Sweet family is faced with the fear of riots attacking their new house in a white community.…

Jacob This Land Is Mine Analysis

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Analysis Of James Baldwin's Letter To His Nephew James

For instance, by comparing young James understanding of the words “acceptance” and “integration” to a raging storm he paint a vivid picture not only in young James mind but also in the minds of those reading the letter. Furthermore by using the words like acceptance, integration, and impertinent it clearly shows that at this point of the letter the audience and the intention of the letter shifts to a more mature reader who has a better grasp of their meaning. Baldwin then uses pathos to insist to his nephew to accept white people for they have no other hope, ironically he even mentions that the people that are trapped are white and until they understand their history they will remain stuck. This passage is very important because Baldwin subliminally and unconsciously takes a stab at furthering integration and promoting peace, whereas he could have advices his nephew to be resentful towards white people for what they have done to their race but doesn’t, therefore reducing the tension in a sense between the races through the use of rhetorical…

Zora Neale Hurston Influence

The documentary The African Americans Many Rivers to Cross tells that nearly 1.6 million African Americans migrated north into the booming economy of places such as Harlem that was predominately white. That is, until 1910 when African Americans quickly outnumbered the white population in 1980 and actually made up more than 90 percent of the city’s population. Zora Neale Hurston’s writing is both a reflection of and a departure from the ideas of the Harlem Renaissance as represented in Janie’s self-discovery, self-acceptance and changing independence in rural black communities within Florida during the 1920s and 30s. Mrs. Turner in Zora Neale Hurston’s novel reflects the general relationship between black and white people during the Harlem…

Analysis Of Fifth Avenue Uptown By James Baldwin

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Racism In Sonny's Blues

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How To Overcome The Drugs In Sonny's Blues

Being that the time was around the 1950s and they were black it was difficult for them. James Baldwin the author did an excellent job with portraying the life black people had through his story. He made points such as how drugs come into someone’s life. A reason being is because they struggle and seek to find acceptance that no one is giving them. Another point he made was that the drugs not only affected the user but also the people closest to them.…

Baldwin's Notes Of A Native Son

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Sympathy Paul Laurence Dunbar Poem Analysis

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James Baldwin's Fifth Avenue, Uptown

In his collection of essays in Nobody Knows My Name, James Baldwin uses “Fifth Avenue, Uptown” to establish the focus that African Americans no matter where they are positioned would be judged just by the color of their skin. Through his effective use of descriptive word choice, writing style and tone, Baldwin helps the reader visualize his position on the subject. He argues that “Negroes want to be treated like men” (Baldwin, 67). Baldwin gives a vivid sketch of the depressing conditions he grew up on in Fifth Avenue, Uptown by using strong descriptive words. He makes use of such word choices in his beginning sentences when he reflects back to his house which is now replaced by housing projects and “one of those stunted city trees is snarling where our [his] doorway used to be” (Baldwin...

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how james baldwin uses "fifth avenue, uptown" to establish the focus that african americans would be judged just by the color of their skin.
  • Analyzes baldwin's vivid sketch of the depressing conditions he grew up on in fifth avenue, uptown by using strong descriptive words.
  • Analyzes baldwin's use of italics to state a strong fact that he agrees with or deems important to readers. baldwin uses lengthy sentences that are sustain with breaks such as hyphens and dashes.
  • Analyzes how baldwin leaves the reader feeling a sense of despair common to the residents of fifth avenue, uptown.

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James Baldwin's Life in Notes of a Native Son

... came as a big shock. After having analyzed his feelings towards race relations in his life, his father’s interpretation of this passage now resembled that of his own. At the start of the essay Baldwin hated his father because his bitterness bothered him but he concludes with the desire to be with his father again. As he evaluates his experiences with racism alongside his feelings from the death of his father, he realizes that his father held correct opinions on white people and his whole life he hated the wrong person. James Baldwin perpetuated hate during his life by directing it at his father and didn’t even notice until he was hated himself; unfortunately, he lost that precious time with his father.

Shelby Steele's On Being Black And Middle Class

In his essay, “On Being Black and Middle Class” (1988), writer and middle-class black American, Shelby Steele adopts a concerned tone in order to argue that because of the social conflicts that arise pertaining to black heritage and middle class wealth, individuals that fit under both of these statuses are ostracized. Steele proposes that the solution to this ostracization is for people to individualize themselves, and to ‘“move beyond the victim-focused black identity” (611). Steele supports his assertion by using evidence from his own life and incorporating social patterns to his text. To reach his intended audience of middle-class, black people, Steele’s utilizes casual yet, imperative diction.

Compare And Contrast Zora Neale Hurston

Ethnic group is a settled mannerism for many people during their lives. Both Zora Neale Hurston, author of “How It Feels to Be Colored Me; and Brent Staples, author of “Just Walk On By: A Black Man Ponders His Power to Alter Public Space,” realize that their life will be influenced when they are black; however, they take it in pace and don’t reside on it. They grew up in different places which make their form differently; however, in the end, It does not matter to them as they both find ways to match the different sexes and still have productivity in their lives.. Hurston was raised in Eatonville, Florida, a quiet black town with only white passer-by from time-to-time, while Staples grew up in Chester, Pennsylvania, surrounded by gang activity from the beginning. Both Hurston and Staples share similar and contrasting views about the effect of the color of their

John F. Kennedy and the Civil Rights Movement

---. “White Man’s Guilt.” 1995 James Baldwin: Collected Essays. Ed. Toni Morrison. New York: Library of America, 1998: 722-727.

The Importance Of Music In Sonny's Blues

James Baldwin, an African-American writer, was born to a minister in 1924 and survived his childhood in New York City. The author is infamous for his pieces involving racial separatism with support from the blues. Readers can understand Harlem as a negative, unsafe environment from Baldwin’s writings and description of his hometown as a “dreadful place…a kind of concentration camp” (Hicks). Until the writer was at the age of twenty-four, he lived in a dehumanizing, racist world where at ten years old, he was brutally assaulted by police officers for the unchanging fact that he is African-American. In 1948, Baldwin escaped to France to continue his work without the distractions of the racial injustice

The Civil Rights Movement in 1955

Baldwin, James. “Notes of a Native Son.” 1995. James Baldwin: Collected Essays. Ed. Toni Morrison. New York: Library of America, 1998. 63-84.

Baldwin's Writing Style in Notes of a Native Son

James Baldwin was born in Harlem in a time where his African American decent was enough to put more challenges in front of him than the average (white) American boy faced. His father was a part of the first generation of free black men. He was a bitter, overbearing, paranoid preacher who refused change and hated the white man. Despite of his father, his color, and his lack of education, James Baldwin grew up to be a respected author of essays, plays, and novels. While claiming that he was one of the best writers of the era could be argued either way, it is hard to argue the fact that he was indeed one of the most well-known authors of the time. One of his intriguing skills as a writer is his ability to intertwine narration and analysis in his essays. James Baldwin mixes narration and analysis in his essays so well that coherence is never broken, and the subconscious is so tempted to agree with and relate to what he says, that if you don’t pay close attention, one will find himself agreeing with Baldwin, when he wasn’t even aware Baldwin was making a point. Physical placement of analytical arguments and analytical transitions, frequency and size of analytical arguments, and the language used within the analytical arguments are the keys to Baldwin’s graceful persuasion. Throughout this essay, I will be using Baldwin’s “Notes of a Native Son” for examples. “Notes of a Native Son” is an essay that Baldwin wrote which focuses primarily on his life around the time his father died, which also happens to be the same time his youngest brother was born.

Langston Hughes And Claude Mckay Analysis

This image is the author’s perspective on the treatment of “his people” in not only his hometown of Harlem, but also in his own homeland, the country in which he lives. The author’s dream of racial equality is portrayed as a “raisin in the sun,” which “stinks like rotten meat” (Hughes 506). Because Hughes presents such a blatantly honest and dark point of view such as this, it is apparent that the author’s goal is to ensure that the reader is compelled to face the issues and tragedies that are occurring in their country, compelled enough to take action. This method may have been quite effective in exposing the plight of African-Americans to Caucasians. It can be easily seen that Hughes chooses a non-violent and, almost passive method of evoking a change. While Hughes appears to be much less than proud of his homeland, it is apparent that he hopes for a future when he may feel equal to his fellow citizens, which is the basis of the “dream” that has been

James Baldwin's Stranger in the Village

Baldwin and his ancestors share this common rage because of the reflections their culture has had on the rest of society, a society consisting of white men who have thrived on using false impressions as a weapon throughout American history. Baldwin gives credit to the fact that no one can be held responsible for what history has unfolded, but he remains restless for an explanation about the perception of his ancestors as people. In Baldwin?s essay, his rage becomes more directed as the ?power of the white man? becomes relevant to the misfortune of the American Negro (Baldwin 131). This misfortune creates a fire of rage within Baldwin and the American Negro. As Baldwin?s American Negro continues to build the fire, the white man builds an invisible wall around himself to avoid confrontation about the actions of his ?forefathers? (Baldwin 131). Baldwin?s anger burns through his other emotions as he writes about the enslavement of his ancestors and gives the reader a shameful illusion of a Negro slave having to explai...

James Baldwin's The First Next Time

The introduction to the novel is the first shorter essay from him to his nephew. Through Baldwin’s letter to his nephew he goes into depth of what kind of world he is forced to grow up in and what white America expects him to do in this world “this innocent country set you down in a ghetto in which in fact, it intended that you should perish.” (Baldwin, 7) By this last quotation Baldwin is telling his nephew that he was placed in the struggle from the beginning and is expected to suffer there forever. He goes on to say in a way that this is the case because of the fact that you are “black and no other reason” (Baldwin, 7) Baldwin’s essay was a form of delivering encouragement to the young adolescent “if you whence where you came, there is really no limits to where you can go”. He wants his nephew to know that you first have to accept what have been dealt to you and from there you can go anywhere and do anything you desire. This does show how many parents of black children had to be in able for their children to prosper rather perish, particularly during the “Movement”, but yet still today black parents still have to push th...

Dr Brent Staples

Staples, Brent. “Black Men and Public Space.” Reading Critically, Writing Well. Sixth edition Eds. Rise B. Axelrod and Charles R. Cooper. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2002. 134-136. Print.

Suffering and Struggle in Sonny´s Blues by James Baldwin

The transition of being a black man in a time just after slavery was a hard one. A black man had to prove himself at the same time had to come to terms with the fact that he would never amount to much in a white dominated country. Some young black men did actually make it but it was a long and bitter road. Most young men fell into the same trappings as the narrator’s brother. Times were hard and most young boys growing up in Harlem were swept off their feet by the onslaught of change. For American blacks in the middle of the twentieth century, racism is another of the dark forces of destruction and meaninglessness which must be endured. Beauty, joy, triumph, security, suffering, and sorrow are all creations of community, especially of family and family-like groups. They are temporary havens from the world''s trouble, and they are also the meanings of human life.

Baldwin's Views on Struggles of Blacks in America

The absence of true freedom is apparent in Baldwin?s other essays, in which he writes about the rampant prejudice and discrimination of the 1950?s and 60?s. Blacks during this time were limited as to where they could live, go to school, use the bathroom, eat, and drink. ?Such were the cases of a Nigerian second secretary who was rebuffed last week when he tried to order breakfast in Charlottesville, VA, and a Ghanaian second secret...

Summary Of Paranoia In Notes Of A Native Son

In Notes of a Native Son, James Baldwin describes the funeral of his father on his nineteenth birthday. The cause of death, according to Baldwin, was the paranoia caused by a “fever”(53) that all African Americans hold because of the way that white people treat them. The funeral scene in particular impacted Baldwin in exemplifying the effects of the paranoia that is forced upon Black people as a result of racial bias in the United States. Baldwin has to live with the same illness his father had, and had to watch his community suffer in the same way. Although it has been seventy five years since the death of Baldwin’s father, the issues that he faced are still relevant today. The documentary I Am Not Your Negro reveals the same struggle that Black Americans face in cities all over the United

The Light and Darkness of Suffering Depicted in Sonny's Blues

Reuben, Paul P. PAL: Perspectives in American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide. Chapter 10: James Baldwin (1924-1987). 3 November 2011. April 2012 .

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Fifth Avenue, Uptown by James Baldwin

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james baldwin fifth avenue uptown essay


  1. 🏆 James baldwin fifth avenue uptown. Fifth Avenue, Uptown by James Baldwin: Summary, Analysis

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