In James Baldwin's second novel published, we meet a young American called David. He has left his home country to live in Paris. In the first meeting with this man, he stares out a window and thinks about his life. Even this early in the book we get an impression of everything not being in its right place. This is where emptiness lives.
As Davis starts to tell about his life as a young boy in America, he lets us know about his mother dying far too young, and him being raised by his father and aunt. David's dad is stereotype of a man and their emotions. He and his son never have a close relationship. Even when David gets hurt in an accident, his father doesn't want him to cry. He wants him to be a man, a manly man and not a Sunday teacher. One summer day, David is hanging out with his friend Joey. This ends out be David's first sexual encounter with another person. The next day he is very much ashamed and scared and deserts Joey, even though he's got strong emotions for him. When he starts school that fall he starts hanging out with new people, starts to drink and date girls. This is when the deceit begins.
Somewhere along the road, David decides to leave for Paris. He's tired of imitating his father's manly behaviour and runs from the problem he is refusing to acknowledge. In this new country, David meets Hella, a fellow American who, like him self, also is searching for a meaning in life. He tries so hard to fulfil what is expected of him as a man and an American, and decides to propose to this girl who he finds fascinating and exciting. By making his circumstances as "normal" as possible, he believes it will make him "normal" as well. In the book David says it like this: I suppose that's why I asked her to marry me: to give myself something to be moored to.' His plan does not work, though. Hella leaves for Spain to think over the proposal, and he is left in France, all alone. This is when Giovanni makes his appearance. He is handsome...
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