Baldwin Relationships

Length: 5 Pages 1314 Words

This story represents the effects of a parent child relationship and how it impacts the child even after the death of his parent. Baldwin did not know his father very well, mainly because they shared different views about life. His father knew that the world had opportunities but felt they were only for the white person. Baldwin’s father was the first generation to be a free man. His father along with thousands migrated to the north after 1919. Baldwin’s father experienced first hand what is was like to be a slave and how the white people treated the blacks. This certainly affected how Baldwin’s father felt toward the white person. Baldwin, however, did not experience what it was like to be a slave. Baldwin and his father never really connected as father and son. His father was a harsh man which made his son afraid to approach him. Baldwin says, “When he took one of his children on his knee to play, the child always became fretful and began to cry; when he tried to help one of us with our homework the absolutely unabating tension which emanated from his caused our minds and our tongues to become paralyzed, so that he, scarcely knowing why, flew into a rage and the child, not knowing why, was punished.” (53 Continue...

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(57-58) This part of the story is very important because it shows how Baldwin has changed. (61) This passage illustrates the feelings of someone who was in World War II, and how they would have rather been killed in war and died in honor protecting their country, instead of coming home to stubborn Americans. Even though his father hid it well he did love his son. Baldwin's realization of this is expressed when Baldwin says "All of my father's texts and songs, which I had decided were meaningless, were arranged before me at his death like empty bottles, waiting to hold the meaning which life would give them for me. I saw that this had been for my ancestors and now would be for me an awful thing to live with and that the bitterness which had helped to kill my father could also kill me. There was so much anger built up inside their father that whenever he would try to help one his children, they would become frightened and too scared to say or do anything, and that made their father even madder. During the summer of 1943, there was a riot in Harlem and many blacks were involved in the chaos. Baldwin wanted her to say it again but a little closer so that he could put his hands around her neck and choke her. Baldwin notices how his father feels and tries not to inherit these feelings from his father. After a while a waitress came over and told him that they don't serve Negroes here. (67) This story illustrates the magnitude of a parents influence even when the child resists that influence. Baldwin's father had already realized this and decided to hate everyone and not get close to anyone. But even more relevant is that he himself has become prejudice. This fear and hatred even went towards his children which is why his father never developed any relationships with his children. Such a death would be, in short, a fact with which one could hope to live.