THE CONFRONTING REALITY OF HUMANITY

*BALDWIN- How does Baldwin through his language technique succeed in immersing his reader in the experience of his characters? Choose any section of his amazing story “Going to Meet the Man”

The 1965 text, Going to Meet the Man by James Baldwin is quite a unique piece of writing that commentates on social issues within America. At the start of this text, the reader is introduced to the character Jesse, and his experiences of growing up in a racist context. It is almost so grotesque that the reader misses the most important theme within the story. Baldwin uses compelling language techniques to immerse the reader in the sense of his characters.

In Baldwins conflicting views towards colored women, the reader is able to identify a battle within himself. This is portrayed in the line ‘They were animals, they were no better than animals, what could be done with people like that?’ Through the use of the rhetorical question, it helps the reader stay engaged with the story. Contrastingly, Baldwin offers a contrary concept “the image of a black girl caused a distant excitement in him, like a far- away light.” Similie is successfully used to show a sense of desire, which contradicts the opinions of society where they are expected to unfriend African Americans.

Baldwin uses strong language to express both the scene unfolding before young Jesse and the personal awareness of a boy about to change based on one animalistic act against another human by an opinionated crowd. Jesse witnesses first hand the unjust pain and killing of a man based solely on race and perception. The grotesque scene ends in a grisly mutilation followed by the captured man being beaten to death by the violent people. While the murder is taking place, a strange excitement arises in Jesse. It is as if this is the pinnacle of Jesse’s existence. Every racist sentiment that he had been taught throughout his life became tangible. Not only was this excitement present deep within Jesse, but it was also evident in the rest of the crowd. Jesse especially notes his mother’s reaction throughout the ordeal. “He watched his mother’s face. Her eyes were very bright, her mouth was open: she was more beautiful than he and ever seen her, and more strange”. The mother’s reaction to this gruesome scene had an impact on Jesse’s response evident in the line “He began to feel a joy he had never felt before. He watched the hanging, gleaming body, the most beautiful and terrible object he had ever seen till then. One of his father’s friends reached up and in his hands, he held a knife: and Jesse wished that he had been that man”. Baldwin uses blunt language evident in the phrase ‘object’ to name the mans body rather than his name. Furthermore, he refers to the man’s body as meat which reinforces the idea of racism and how the Americans are viewed as pure slaves.

Jesse especially notes his mother’s reaction throughout the tribulation. “He watched his mother’s face. Her eyes were very bright, her mouth was open: she was more beautiful than he and ever seen her, and more strange”. The mother’s reaction to this gruesome scene had an impact on Jesse’s response evident in the line “He began to feel a joy he had never felt before. He watched the hanging, gleaming body, the most beautiful and terrible object he had ever seen till then. One of his father’s friends reached up and in his hands, he held a knife: and Jesse wished that he had been that man”. Baldwin uses blunt language evident in the phrase ‘object’ to name the mans body rather than his name. Furthermore, he refers to the man’s body as meat which reinforces the idea of racism and how the Americans are viewed as pure slaves.

Conclusively, Baldwin’s use of literary language most definitely immerses the reader in the experience of his characters by allowing a more realistic and first-hand witness of these events to truly encounter the confronting reality of humanity.

 

 

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One Reply to “THE CONFRONTING REALITY OF HUMANITY”

  1. Hi Ngaire,

    I to choose this blog topic to answer as I believe “Going to meet the man” is such a confronting piece of text which allows for many ideas and outlooks to come out when reading it. The character Jesse as you have described ‘experiences growing up in a racist society’. As a result of this, it reveals the harsh reality that individuals of colour faced as well as being objectified to the power of the white people. I appreciate the fact that you have included certain techniques such as rhetorical’s, imagery and simile in your blog as it alerts readers to be inclusive as well as having an insight into the grotesque events which occur in Baldwin’s text.

    My critics are that a picture expressing your opinion or highlighting the key points which you were addressing would have created such a perfect finisher to your blog. As well, I can see that one of your paragraphs are larger than the rest, although that might be the way you’ve typed in the structure of the paragraphs looks a little unbalanced but other than that you’ve done an incredible job with this entry!

    – Annaliese

    Like

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