In the article, ‘notes of a native son’, James Baldwin, the author, narrates the tribulations he and his siblings lived through in surviving their dad’s anger and bitterness towards the world and how much it was tedious to amount to something or someone especially as an African American living among southerners. I picked this article because the enthralling tension between dad and sons in this text is glaring and is culminated by the fierceness their dad emanated from such a young age probably as a result of his past experiences and how life had been cruel to him. Baldwin uses his personal experiences as an African American man trying to make it in New Jersey to relate to his father’s silence and intolerance towards the southerners.
The author expresses his contempt of the younger generation in the essay by speaking about their ignorance towards the issues facing society like racism and discrimination. He uses his father to symbolize a whole generation to explain how oblivious the younger generation was of the oppression the black people had faced back then and why the young generation needed to take action against social injustices if change was going to be achieved. He vividly describes what it took to be a black man during those times and why the older generation were protective of their own. His own experiences in the streets of Harlem show how tough it was to survive as a black man and uses that to speak to their consciousness to get them to stand up against discrimination by the whites.
The author uses the essay to point out how older generations are conservative in their ways and why they have stuck to their own and why they tend to disintegrate themselves from society. He gives detailed accounts from his personal life to cut through to the audience. His experiences during the year leading to his father’s death bring to life the social injustices that were happening to the black community at the time. All these open our minds to the journey of Baldwin realizing that his dad had been right all along.
The author intelligently uses his resentment towards his dad to point out how we hate on the older generation for making certain choices and living a certain way. He becomes aware of his father’s words that liberation of black people was never nigh. The whites were privileged and they would continue to enjoy the privileges for years to come. Baldwin uses his father’s cognizant nature to describe why the old generations are slow to accept change. It is through experiencing life that we learn to understand the pain behind their eyes. This conflict between sons and dads has always been there and more often sons understand why their dads were ruthless in stating sternly what is black and white. Most of us resent our dads for being just that, ‘our dads’. What our dads consider protective translates to invasion of boundaries to the sons. Men are generally rebellious to authority, we relate to experiencing life through our ways as compared to direct living as we develop character from personal experiences throughout our lives, be it in relationships, health and their strive for wealth and power.
This difference in ideologies between the older and the younger generation creates a rift between them. The way the author walks us through his estranged relationship with his father with such ease and clarity help the audience relate more to him and his experiences to their lives and the kind of emotions it draws to the attention of the audience. By using this style of writing, he invites his audience in and uses it to lure them deep inside his thoughts and ideologies.
From my own experience as a writer this style of writing is invigorating, it pushes the audience to action. It speaks to the 6th sense of the readers. It led to some revolutions in the future as it addressed the issues the society faced. He uses it to effectively address the disparities between people of African American descent and the southerners in New Jersey. What he had gone through that year echoed his father’s bitter warnings. This gives the audience the chance to come to the realization of the weight his father’s words carried. He lets us experience firsthand how much influence white people had in the world and engages the audience by making them think how rough it must have been for his dad if the blacks still faced as much oppression as he had faced the whole of that year. We experience the cruelty of the world from his eyes through his good narration