My Final Blog Post

As I reflect on this class, the many readings I have done, and the various blog posts I have written, primarily on the work of James Baldwin, I am happy to see how I have grown as a writer and have grown in understanding the complexities of race, sexuality, and identity throughout literature. 

From beginning with Native Son and exploring the character of Bigger Thomas to reading the multiple representations and renditions of James Baldwin that he presents in his essays and books, one common theme is present. Throughout all of Baldwin’s works, there is a complex exploration of identity and a demonstration of the profound impact that societal norms, prejudices, and expectations of individuals have on that identity. Baldwin’s perspective on the societal issues of race in America, homosexuality, identity, and more serve as a powerful lens through which I can now view many of the complexities of race, sexuality, and the human experience outside of his works. Although Baldwin’s perspective on society that is seen in his work is one from long ago, many of the topics he covered and the insights he provided are still extremely relevant today. I am glad that Baldwin’s writings continue to serve as a timeless guide, sparking crucial conversations about social justice, equality, diverse identities, and the ongoing struggle for human rights. 

I am not going to lie, before this class, I had no clue who James Baldwin was and what his contributions were to the world of literature and social commentary, especially concerning the Black experience. However, through the pieces we read, I found myself immersed in Baldwin’s writings and found myself captivated by all of the things Baldwin had to say. As our class comes to a close, I feel as though I have a much richer understanding of James Baldwin. During the semester, oftentimes I failed to comprehend the things I read and failed to connect what we were reading to the larger picture but now, things make a lot more sense. 

From grappling with the character of Bigger Thomas to dissecting the relationships in Giovanni’s Room, each of Baldwin’s works taught me something new. I am glad that this class has expanded my understanding of literature and expanded my appreciation for Baldwin’s intricate storytelling and the layers of meaning embedded in his work. 

2 thoughts on “My Final Blog Post”

  1. I was similarly unaware of the life and work of James Baldwin prior to this class. Despite this, I too found myself completely engrossed by his mediations and reflections on race, sexuality, and identity as they function in America. That said, I found your point about his biography and his work serving as evidence of the need to understand and respect complexity to be very insightful and a great way of summarizing all we have learned and discussed in this course. I would also agree that these final few weeks, especially hearing about everyone’s papers, have been transformative in helping me to better grasp Baldwin’s writings in conversation with one another.

  2. I absolutely agree that one of the best insights Baldwin offered was to complexity and nuance. His work, feelings, and flaws offer so many different approaches and contradictions that most of his work serves as a guide on how to be human. All of the nuances allow us to better understand each other and ourselves, and hopefully that understanding also allows us to judge ourselves and each other less harshly. There is a lot of power and a lot of love in that sentiment, particularly pertaining to Civil Rights and human rights in general. I am equally glad to have experienced this approach, and I’m glad I was along for the ride with you and the rest of the class.

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