James Baldwin Essay, Research Paper
Another Country and Go Tell it on the Mountain are two of James Baldwin’s most analyzed novels. Some see both novels as great additions to American literature, while others criticize Baldwin’s unique writing style used in both works.
Another Country has been called a true American classic, and also a literary failure. At any rate, it is an extremely controversial novel filled with controversial characters. The majority of the novel is filled with either talk or fornication, and at least halfway through the novel the talk takes over and begins to control it.
Baldwin’s Another Country is divided into categories. These categories, including black/white, hetero/homosexual, and male/female are constantly brought up throughout the novel.
The novel is divided into three sections and covers four narratives. Each narrative focuses on two characters, and the eight main characters interact throughout the novel. All of the pairs focus on the categories that were mentioned before.
Rufus Scott and Leona make up the first pair of characters. Rufus is a black jazz musician trapped in a white racist society . Leona is his southern mistress who seems to compliment his harsh sexuality with her fragile temperament. The first section concludes with Leona losing her sanity and the suicide of Rufus Scott.
The second narrative covers Ida Scott and Vivaldo Moore. Ida was Rufus’ brother, and Vivaldo, his best and only true friend. Vivaldo is a white male who is somewhat confused about his sexuality, as most characters in the novel are as well. He somehow feels responsible for the death of Rufus, and is constantly haunted by his memories. Ida is a proud black woman who made it her goal to avenge her brothers’ death.
Cass and Richard Silenski make up the third narrative. The couple exemplify a traditional relationship; white, married with children, however, they are not happy together.
The fourth narrative involves two white homosexuals, Eric Jones and Yves. Eric is an American actor that moved to Paris for a couple of years and met Yves. The narrative concludes with Eric meeting up with Yves in America.
During the novel, the characters’ lives are all combined with each other’s struggles and sexual experiences, some heterosexual, some homo- or bisexual. The most obvious victim of the novel is Rufus Scott, a black jazz musician who commits suicide at the end of the long first chapter. The other major characters also suffer as they struggle to find themselves and satisfy their craving for love and true happiness.
Baldwin’s Go Tell it on the Mountain was his first novel, and some would argue that it was his best. Baldwin’s attitude and emotions are expressed in this novel through the characters.
The novel begins by describing the protagonist John Grimes and his daily routine. The audience soon learns of the rest of his family including his father Gabriel who is also a priest.
Much of the novel deals with the emergence of the Grimes family from the south, and the struggle of Gabriel Grimes with morality and lust. This emergence from the south can be compared to Another Country as the characters in both works seek a new place after much suffering and oppression.
There are other similarities including the urban location of New York City, and also Baldwin’s use of flashbacks in both novels, however the most evident is the suffering of black people. Also, both novels share the graphic and sometimes gruesome details and emotions of black peoples’ lives in the New York area.
Baldwin’s unique style is evident in both novels, including his vivid descriptions of black and white, and also of sexual relations. However, it is safe to say that both novels are American classics.