James Baldwins Going to Meet the Man

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Ava Finnegan
English 260
Mapping Minor Discourses and Devising Interventions
March 21, 2012

Psychology says memory is built upon the ability to store, retain, and recall information. Sound has the ability to recall certain events that have previously occurred. Sound is also defined as the particular auditory effect produced by a given cause. Everyday sounds are taken for granted by nearly everyone. A sound can be a voice, conversation, or even music one does not often pay attention to carefully. Repetition of sound builds memory and has the ability to enforce a certain belief. In James Baldwin’s “Going to Meet the Man, Jesse’s judgments and feelings toward African Americans occur through the use of sound. Racism, violence, and sexual behaviors are shown as justifiable means the exercise of sound.

James Baldwin introduces the reader to Jesse. Jesse is a white male living in the American South. He is the town deputy, who is working during a time where there is unrest in this rural town. Considering Jesse work’s for local law enforcement, he is quite the bigot. Being racist entails this is idea that one race is superior to another. In this instance it is the Southern white American male versus the African American culture and society. Since he is town deputy, he is supposed to serve and protect one’s rights. Although definitely does not protect everyone’s rights equally. After having quite the rough day at work he proceeds to tell his wife, Grace of the events that have unfolded. The sound of her mumbling begins his version of how this day has occurred. “Goddamn the niggers. The black stinking coons. You’d think they’d learn” (1750). Jesse grew up in a generation beforehand that was deeply racist. Part of understanding Jesse and how he becomes this racist is to understand his past. There was an event known as the Picnic. An African American body had been brutally massacred for pleasure of the white families of the area. According to Jesse’s memory, his...
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