Contextual Analysis of My Dungeon Shook

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Corey Givens
English 1010
Professor Murray

Contextual Analysis
My Dungeon Shook

When you first look at this letter, the title does not seem to give much evidence as to how what the content is about or means. I could possibly be a letter from the 1500’s explaining someone’s time in prison or possibly a story of an inmate who was wrongly accused. However this letter is much different than that, and has a meaning that is much different. When we think of a dungeon or a prison we automatically think of some sort of chains or bondage but in this letter we see a dungeon that is more real in this time period than any other, segregation and racism. In the 1960’s the United States was in a state of great distress with all of the racism that was consuming it. It’s own citizens were being attacked, sprayed with powerful water hoses, and were even murdered for not what they represented as a member of society but just for the color of their skin. This letter exemplifies what many people in this time period had to go through every day of their life. “…For which neither I nor history will forgive them.” This quote from the letter sums up how all of the African Americans at the time felt about the oppression they had to go through. However, the letter does have a different message than most would assume it would have. In this letter James Baldwin is telling his nephew that even through he has much resentment for what the people have done to him he should still never use force to try to attain his goal of equal rights. You know this is true by the fact that his uncle constantly reminds him to not be like those other people. “There is no reason for you to try to become like the white people and there is no basis whatever for their impertinent assumption that they must accept you. The really terrible thing, old buddy, is that you must accept them.” This quote from the letter gives you a direct look into the exact reason that the letter was written. It is a...
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