SAMPLE EXCERPT:

The relationship between Baldwin and his father represents the impact on the black community because it shows the division that occurs. Baldwin describes this where he says that his father was in the "first generation of free men" (Baldwin 52). Baldwin also describes how he sees his father as very different to him. As he states,

He looked to me, as I grew older, like pictures I had seen of African tribal chieftans: he really should have been naked, with war-paint on and barbaric mementos, standing among spears (Baldwin 53).

The most important point about this statement is that it shows that Baldwin identifies himself more with being a white person than a black person. He does not see that he has anything in common with his father. His description of his father also suggests that Baldwin does not even see his father as part of modern society. Instead, he sees him as part of an African tribe. Considering Baldwin and his father, it is noted that there is only a generation between them. However, it seems like a much greater separation than this. The separation between Baldwin and his father is also seen where Baldwin describes his father saying that his white friends were not really his friends and that "white people would do anything to keep a Negro down" (Baldwin 56). Baldwin responds by saying that "I did not feel this way and I was certain, in my innocence, that I never would" (Baldwin 56). This shows the generation gap that exists between Baldwin and his father. Baldwin cannot understand his father's view and rejects it. Baldwin also cannot see the connection between himself and his father. This can be explained by recalling that Baldwin grew up considering himself as part of the white society, while Baldwin's father grew up considering black and white society as separate. To Baldwin, his father's ideas seem completely foreign and he is not able to comprehend them. If Baldwin and his father had of had the same experience of racism, it might have been something that made them closer. Instead, their different experiences force them apart. This partially explains why Baldwin feels more connected to white society than to his own father. Racism then can be seen as causing intense division in the black community. In Baldwin's father's generation, it seems that racism was so widespread that it was plainly obvious that black and white people were separate. This clear separation meant that the black people did not consider themselves part of the white society. In Baldwin's generation, the situation changed and racism was not so apparent. This is seen in Baldwin's own statement where he says that,

I knew about the south, of course, and about how southerners treated Negroes and how they expected them to behave, but it never entered my mind that anyone would look at me and expect me to behave that way (Baldwin 56).

Without the division being so apparent, Baldwin naturally considered himself as part of the larger society. This created a major point of difference between Baldwin and his father, which shows the division that occurs between the generations. It is also noted in "Notes of a Native Son" that Baldwin also feels hatred towards his father. This seems to be largely because he does not understand his father's views and does not see himself as anything like his father. In addition, it seems that he does not want to be like his father. Baldwin writes about this saying that, "I had told my mother that I did not want to see him because I hated him. But this was not true. It was only that I had hated him and I wanted to hold on to this hatred" (Baldwin 61). It seems that Baldwin does not want to give up the hatred for his father, because this would mean accepting his father's point-of-view. In accepting this, Baldwin has to understand his father's generation and what they went through. In turn, doing this means that he cannot see white society as he used to. This is a point that complicates the situation for Baldwin because it means that he is pulled in two directions. In one sense, he has accepted the white society as his own and as the society he wants to exist as part of. On the other hand, he should reject the society because they have rejected him and his people. This leaves Baldwin at a point of conflict, with this conflict centered on himself and his own beliefs. At the same time, he cannot just reject the society because he has grown up as part of it. In the end, this remains a strong point of division between the two generations. This shows that racism creates a division not only between black people and white people, but also between two generations of the black community. The younger generation becomes isolated from the older generation, with this an added psychological effect of racism.

The psychological effects of racism on Baldwin, Baldwin's father, and the black community as a whole have now been considered. It has been seen that for Baldwin there is defiance and an intense anger, followed by an acceptance and a decision to control himself and make the most of the situation. For Baldwin's father there is a strong rejection of white people, driven by a sense of anger towards white society as a whole. For the black community, racism becomes a strong point of division between the generations of society, with racism resulting in the younger generation being isolated form the older generation.

Works Cited…