Going to meet the man analysis
Some of the major themes of James Baldwin's story "Going to Meet the Man" include racism and justice, as well as the intersections between sex, violence and power. Through the internal thoughts of an impotent white deputy in the segregated South, Baldwin explores how racism is taught and propagated, along with the long-term effects of brutal violence on a character's sense of morality and justice. The narrative begins with Jesse in bed, unable to perform sexually and unable to sleep. Baldwin explores his thoughts about his work, his community and his desires.SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: Lit Circle: Going To Meet The Man, by James Baldwin
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Going to Meet the Man Summary
For many individuals, the relationships that exist between family members are the strongest and most influential human connections that the person will ever experience within his or her lifetime. These bonds, formed in early psychosocial development, have the potential to permanently define how a person views his or her world.
Often, children hold fast to the values and social stigmas that sprout from early family interactions and relationships for the remainder of their lives, regardless of whether the values go against the true moral norm or not. However, even within the confines of these tight family bonds, free thinking can be achieved and it is possible for a person to break free from recycled family values.
It takes an extremely courageous person to challenge social and societal wrong in any case, but even more so when the moral aberration is the majority opinion within your present societal situation and reinforced within the value system of the intermediate family.
This scene casts a pall over the remainder of the story. It is almost so grotesque that the reader misses the most important theme within the story. It is a story of racism, bigotry, hatred, and murder, but the most astonishing and, perhaps, the most amazing element is the eye opening transformation of an innocent young child into a stereotypical Southern bigot.
Through this amazing example of storytelling, Baldwin manages to climb inside the brain of a corrupt, racist Southern police officer to relay the story of how this man came to hate. Jesse hated them. They caused all this strife. They were his problem now. Jesse was the law.
It was his job to maintain order. Big Jim C barked out the orders and Jesse carried them out. Generally speaking, Jesse did not have too much of an issue keeping them in-line, but things had begun to get out of hand recently. Jesse put the [cattle] prod to the young man. Over and over, Jesse sent intense jolts of electricity through the young man until he had passed out from shock. As the encounter with the young man went into an interlude, Jesse began to tremble as an intense and peculiar joy washed over him.
Something deep from within his memory was resurfacing, but the overall detail of the scene eluded him. Baldwin uses this particular encounter to show the utter elation that a person can experience when an event occurs that is strangely related to a past pleasurable experience. Upon first encountering the grotesque depiction of the scene, the reader is completely overwhelmed by a feeling of intense disgust.
While finding beauty on the surface of this story might be a difficult task, the reader can certainly appreciate the lengths to which Baldwin went in order to show how any person in any situation can become the victim of twisted family values and societal expectations.
This story is a stretch into the fantastic as Baldwin exaggerated the particular scene within the story. It is likely that he combined many elements of particularly gruesome, unlawful attacks on black people during the civil rights era and the period of history prior to this.
However, this hyperbolic writing is most certainly effective as the experience of the reader goes beyond mere words on a page. The reader actually sees what a young Jesse saw and feels what Jesse felt on that fateful day that forever changed his life and perception.
Jesse had not always been the bigot that he was standing in the cell with that broken and bleeding black man. There was a time when Jesse was just a boy and the other boys his age, regardless of color, were just boys. His name was Otis. Here, Baldwin highlights the simple fact that Otis and Jesse were friends. Regardless of race, creed, or religion, they were just boys who liked to play together. However, in the very next line, the reader begins to see the first signs of the transformation of young Jesse.
There was something afoot. Jesse did not quite understand the details of what was happening, but he was sharp enough to understand that an event had happened that had somehow driven the racist wedge deeper, further dividing the perilous crevice between black and white.
Jesse also knew something was about to happen. A rash action was about to take place in the light this new development within the atmosphere of the racial strife that permeated the air of the town in which Jesse lived and he knew it.
In his innocence, Jesse questioned his father regarding the recent scarcity of his friend. He did not know why he said this. His voice, in the darkness of the car, sounded small and accusing.
That was true. But he was only concerned about this morning. Upon waking the next day, Jesse is confronted by a group of people in his front yard dressed as if they were about to head to Sunday service. Are we going on a picnic? It is evident from the story and the historical period in which the story takes place that Jesse had grown up in an extremely racist society.
It can be assumed that he experienced elements of racism and prejudice on a daily basis from the attitude that his father expresses toward the black race as a whole throughout the story. Startlingly, however, Jesse is presented in the light of childish innocence prior to the event at the Harkness. Jesse was just another boy, understanding the basic expectation that society held him to as a member of the white race, but eschewing this expectation for childish games and camaraderie with anyone regardless of race, religion, or any other divisive factor.
Jesse just wanted to play and enjoy life. His carefree world was about to change forever. The car ride seemed to stretch on and on. The car finally stopped.
Jesse stepped out of the vehicle to see a mob standing before a spectacle that had them cheering and had raised the level of excitement to an almost tangible level. The tingle in the air was almost too much for Jesse to bear. The first aspect that Jesse noticed about the scene unfolding in front of him was the gleaming chain. Baldwin now uses extremely strong language to describe both the scene unfolding before young Jesse and the personal awareness of a boy about to be forever changed by one animalistic act against another human being by a bigoted mob.
The most intriguing aspect of this scene is not the inhuman act carried out against the captured man. While the crime committed against the man is certainly the most disturbing aspect of this scene, the act itself is not the point. Jesse witnesses first hand the unjust torture and murder of a man based solely on race and perception. The grotesque scene culminates in a gruesome mutilation followed by the captured man being beaten to death by the unruly mob.
While the murder is taking place, a strange excitement arises in Jesse. 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. He watched the hanging, gleaming body, the most beautiful and terrible object he had ever seen till then. In a matter of mere minutes, Jesse had gone from an innocent young boy to bigoted white boy. His perceptions regarding the differences between the races that he had developed over the course of his young life came rushing to the forefront of his mind and he was forever changed.
Gone was the young boy who rolled in the dirt with Otis, for Otis was no longer the same. He was now a colored boy. This brought Jesse to a point in his life where he was susceptible to a life-altering experience which occurred while he was in attendance of this abhorrent event. Simply, it was a traumatic experience that finally confirmed all of the racist attitudes and beliefs that the boy had been exposed to throughout his life. It was empirical evidence that reinforced the family and societal values in which Jesse had been indoctrinated.
Jesse was unsure of how exactly to react to the situation at hand; therefore, he looked to his family in order to learn what was expected of him. First, his father impressed the young boy while driving to the Harkness.
Jesse first notes that his father was changed. He somehow was different and more alive than he had ever been before. This established the emotional tone for the encounter that Jesse was preparing to experience.
This also lends to the way in which Jesse processes this experience. This is the heart of the question that Baldwin is proposing. Of course, the torture and murder is absolutely appalling; however, the real tragedy of the story occurs when a young boy was forever lost to the plague of racism due to the conformation to societal norm and expected family values no matter how opposite these values are in regards to true morality.
The story is a bold statement that transcends the festering sore of racism on the face of American history and cries out for the reader to examine all of the values to which he or she subscribes and to honestly appraise the foundations on which these beliefs have been constructed.
Belief systems based on values that are faulted lead to societies that are broken and, ultimately, to individuals that are horridly misshapen by hatred and selfishness. Baldwin, James. Shorter 7 th.
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You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. Edumacation Don't leave as you came. Home About Contact Purpose. Works Cited Baldwin, James. Shorter 7 th Edition. Nina Baym. New York: Norton Company, Share this: Twitter Facebook. Like this: Like Loading Categories: English Tags: English , Going to meet the man , loss of innocence , racism , short story.
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Going to Meet the Man Quotes
For many individuals, the relationships that exist between family members are the strongest and most influential human connections that the person will ever experience within his or her lifetime. These bonds, formed in early psychosocial development, have the potential to permanently define how a person views his or her world. Often, children hold fast to the values and social stigmas that sprout from early family interactions and relationships for the remainder of their lives, regardless of whether the values go against the true moral norm or not. However, even within the confines of these tight family bonds, free thinking can be achieved and it is possible for a person to break free from recycled family values.
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Going to Meet the Man (short story)
Jesse is lying in bed with his wife, frustrated because he cannot achieve an erection. Jesse's wife tells him to go to sleep because tomorrow is an important day. Jesse cannot sleep, however. Jesse tells his wife about a protest that took place in front of the jail that day. Jesse was told to make the singers stop singing after they were arrested, but he could not, so he began to beat the leader to force him to make the singers stop. The kid turned out to be the grandson of a woman Jesse once collected money from when he worked for a mail order company. Jesse was surprised to find this kid there, but not surprised by his defiant attitude because he was once as defiant as child. Browse all BookRags Study Guides. All rights reserved.
What Are the Themes of the Short Story "Going to Meet the Man"?
Drawing on legal scholarship, literary criticism, psychoanalytic theory, and anthropology, the essays collected here exemplify the contributions cultural analysis and cultural studies make to interdisciplinary legal study. Some of these broad-ranging pieces describe particular approaches to the cultural study of the law, while others look at specific moments where the law and culture intersect. Contributors confront the deep connections between law, social science, and post-World War II American liberalism; examine the traffic between legal and late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century scientific discourses; and investigate, through a focus on recovered memory, the ways psychotherapy is absorbed into the law. Austin D.
When he was three years old, his mother married David Baldwin, a deeply religious preacher. James Baldwin lived most of his adult life in France. When he died of cancer in , he left behind a legacy that was manifold. He was famous for his essays, but he also produced novels, poems, dramas and short stories.
L’‘Interdit’ or the ‘Other’ text in James Baldwin’s “Going To Meet the Man”
Going to meet the man is a great piece of writing which is descriptive with appropriate use of vucabalary. The writer of the story; James Baldwin has mostly kept it simple making it easy for reader to understand his thoughts via story. The story is based on ferocious and tragic racism of black community in North America. The story is narrated by a white individual to his wife.SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: Week 7 - James Baldwin's 'Going to Meet The Man'
It was published in in the short story collection of the same name. Jesse is a white deputy sheriff in a small Southern town. As the story opens, he is lying in bed with his wife, Grace. The two attempt to have sex but Jesse is unable to achieve an erection. Frustrated, Jesse imagines the dirtier things that he could force a black woman to do.
Going to Meet the Man - Going to Meet the Man Summary & Analysis