At De Witt Clinton, Baldwin stood out for his literary talent and ambition.
At De Witt Clinton, Baldwin stood out for his literary talent and ambition.Tags: Nursing Scholarship Essay ExamplesA2 Economics EssaysCornell Creative Writing MfaBiology AssignmentGreat Opening Paragraph EssayCritical Thinking Exercises For High School Students
In December 1987, at age sixty-three, Baldwin died of stomach cancer at his home in the south of France.
Baldwin emphasizes the theme of opposition between the chaotic world and the human need for community with a series of opposing images, especially darkness and light.
Baldwin also began to establish a name for himself through a series of essays, some of which were pointedly directed at Baldwin’s first literary mentor, Richard Wright.
Despite the success of his essays, Baldwin had yet to fulfill his dream of publishing a novel.
Set in Harlem, like many of Baldwin’s other work, “Sonny’s Blues” is a constant struggle between light and darkness, failure and redemption.
The story was included in the short-story collection Going to Meet the Man (1965).The opposition of light and darkness is often paired with the opposition of inside and outside.Sonny’s problem as an artist is that inside himself he feels intensely the storm of human passion; to feel whole and free, he must bring this storm outside by gaining artistic control over it, by articulating it for some listener.Baldwin’s mother, after being abandoned by Baldwin’s legitimate father, worked as a domestic servant and eventually married David Baldwin, a preacher whose strong influence on his stepson was evident not only in James Baldwin’s writing but also in his strong religious devotion.While still a teenager, Baldwin experienced a religious epiphany that led him to become a preacher, an experience that Baldwin used as the basis for his most famous novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain (1952), and incorporated into his play The Amen Corner (1968) and much of his other writing. He had a difficult relationship with his stepfather, and while attending De Witt Clinton High School in the Bronx, he grew to accept his homosexuality, further complicating his role in the church.The collection, which spans more than a decade’s worth of Baldwin’s stories, is notable for the insight it gives into Baldwin’s development as a writer.Like much of Baldwin’s later fiction, the collection was met with mixed reviews by critics, who noted that in many of these stories Baldwin was revisiting the same themes he had covered in his previous work.The narrator repeatedly associates light with the desire to articulate or give form to the needs and passions that arise out of inner darkness.He also opposes light as an idea of order to darkness in the world, the chaos that adults endure, but of which they normally cannot speak to children.There, he met Richard Wright, who had already established himself as an author.Wright helped Baldwin win a fellowship to work on his first novel, which went unpublished.