After the fellowship money ran out and Baldwin was unable to get his first novel published, he turned to writing book reviews, which he ironically describes as "mostly …
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James Baldwin 1955 Introduction Author Biography Plot Summary Key Figures Themes Style Historical Context Critical Overview Criticism Sources Further Reading James Baldwin's collection of essays, Notes of a Native Son, with the individual essays having been originally written during the 1940s and 1950s, gives readers a thoughtful commentary on the social environment in the United States in the era of the Civil Rights Movement.
Baldwin concludes his "Autobiographical Notes" with a summation of what he considered his responsibilities as a writer.
"I consider that I have many responsibilities," he wrote, "but none greater than this: to last …
In his "Autobiographical Notes" in Notes of a Native Son, Baldwin refers to his mother, Emma Berdis Jones, as "given to the exasperating and mysterious habit of having babies," for whom Baldwin, as the oldest child, was often called upon to be their main caretaker.
Baldwin critiques his role as babysitter, stating that his siblings "probably suffered" due to the fact that he cared for them with "one hand and held a book with the other." Baldwin's stepfather, David, was a preacher and encouraged Baldwin to read the Bible, the one book that, for a long time in his youth, Baldwin refused to read.
It was through Notes that he would gain the massive audience he would enjoy throughout most of his writing career.
Notes established Baldwin as one of the leading interpreters of the dramatic social changes that would soon erupt in the United States in the critical years ahead.
'The story of the negro in America is the story of America ...
it is not a very pretty story'James Baldwin's breakthrough essay collection made him the voice of his generation.