Love and Hate

ThroughoutGoing to Meet the Man, there is a certain contrast between love and hate. I found it interesting that Baldwin chooses to tell this tale of horrifying hatred during the act of lovemaking was performed. Jessie is unable to get an erection, which is when he recounts an incidence of extreme hatred towards a black man. This gruesome tale of a black man getting mutated and lynched by the white public is told without paying much attention to what action the man did to deserve this inhumane treatment. Baldwin writes that Jessie “beg[ins] to feel a joy he had never felt before. He watche[s] the hanging, gleaming body, the most beautiful and terrible object he had ever seen till then.” (Baldwin 335) The joy is contrasted with the hatred which has caused the “hanging” body. This contrast allows the reader to really feel disgusted at the white man who is turned on by this hate. It makes the story more impactful for me because Jessie does not find anything wrong with the joy he is receiving after seeing such heinous treatment. It makes me despise this white man, who represents the general white male population at that time. Baldwin also contrasts love and hate when he points out that “at that moment Jesse loved his father more than he had ever loved him.” (Baldwin 336) Jessie’s love for his father stems from his father introducing him to the hatred which he carries with him in his adulthood. 

            In his adulthood, when Jessie cannot get an erection, he finally gets one by recounting the story of a black man getting lynched. Jessie “[thinks] of the morning and grab[s] her, laughing and crying, crying and laughing, and he whisper[s], as he stroke[s] her, as he [takes] her, [and says] “Come on, sugar, I’m going to do you like a nigger, just like a nigger, come on, sugar, and love me just like you’d love a nigger.” (Baldwin 338) He is turned on by hate and then makes love to his wife. Yet, he only thinks about a white mob lynching a black man. Not only is the act of lovemaking made possible because of hate towards the black population, but even during the act of lovemaking Jessie does not think about his wife, and thinks about the lynching. He is literally in love with hate. 

            The contrast between love and hate makes the readers despise Jessie as it reveals his personality which involves only unreasonable hatred to his core, even while lovemaking.