Notes to a Native Son

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1) From the last paragraph in the biographical section on page 51 that starts with “In ‘Notes of a Native Son,’” was most useful to my understanding of this essay because it gives a brief summary of Baldwin’s essay. However, the first couple of sentences on page 49 gave me an idea of what kind of writer Baldwin is: “took on the responsibility of speaking as a black American about the ‘Negro problems in America.’” 2) Baldwin’s father is a minister whom he never gets to know as a true loving parent. There are few instances where Baldwin says his father said something nice. His father complimented his brilliant choir boy voice in church, which brought much joy to his father. Baldwin says, “I remembered that he had always been grinning with pleasure when my solos ended.” (p.64) Indeed his father was proud of his son at one point in his life. For the most part Baldwin’s father was bitter and isolated. Baldwin’s father drove his family farther and farther away from him. His father was so full of hatred that it consumed him like gangrene which is slow and demoralizing till the day he died. All that Baldwin has so strongly imprinted in his mind about his father is that he told him to never trust white people. Ultimately, his father’s hatred for whites destroys him and causes much anger in his son’s life. 3) In section III, Baldwin begins with his father’s funeral. Then he goes into reminiscing the times when his father was alive, realizing that they hadn’t talked much. Then back to the funeral, “The casket now was opened and the mourners were being led up the aisle to look for the last time on the deceased.” (p.65) Baldwin takes a last look at his father’s face. After the funeral, he celebrates his birthday in downtown. Meanwhile, in Harlem (uptown), a riot occurs carried out by a group of angry mob, that started from a fight in Hotel Braddock between a Negro soldier and a white policeman. The rumor was “that the soldier had been shot in the back, an...
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