First Advisor

Nancy Porter

Date of Publication

9-27-1996

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in English

Department

English

Subjects

Homosexuality in literature, James Baldwin (1924-1987) -- Criticism and interpretation

DOI

10.15760/etd.7103

Physical Description

1 online resource (2, 116 p.)

Abstract

James Arthur Baldwin (1924- 1987) is one of the two major writers who have dared write about black gay men and from a black gay perspective. However, his fame as a racial spokesman and his insightful analyses of race relations in America tend to distract attention from the fact that he has been one of the most important homosexual writers of the twentieth century. Intolerance and homophobia among black and white Americans often led to a misinterpretation or misevaluation of James Baldwin's novels. James Baldwin was very courageous to come out as a black homosexual writer during the period of the Cold War and the Civil Rights movement. However, his awareness of racism and homophobia in the American society, and his difficult position of being a public figure and a spokesman for the Afro-Americans left its traces in his novels and influenced his novel writing career. The purpose of the present study is to show that out of intolerance, ignorance, and homophobia the evaluators of James Baldwin's novels often did him no justice. Baldwin through his novel writing developed a homosexual consciousness for himself. This struggle of coming-out was his personal struggle and it was marked by his burden of the doubly oppressed. I argue that Baldwin's search for an identity as a black homosexual writer is reflected in his writing. He constructed his identity through his writing. This study attempts to show that Baldwin's development of a homosexual identity took place in stages during his novel writing career. An analysis of the novels Go Tell It On the Mountain (1953), Giovanni's Room (1956), Another Country (1962), and Just Above My Head ( 1979) will demonstrate his movement from dealing with homosexuality as an underlying theme to using it as a tool to protest against any kinds of labels in the American society. Baldwin believed that discrimination cannot cease as long as the categorization of people through artificial constructs such as the "Negro" or the "homosexual" exists.

Comments

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Persistent Identifier

https://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/30290

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