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Autobiographial Comparison Essay

1084 words - 5 pages

Autobiographical Comparison

While reading through James Baldwin's Autobiographical Notes, I was struck with a sudden flash of inspiration. I already knew that I enjoyed Baldwin's works more than any others we have read in class so far: Rodriguez's writing I found to be dull and victimized; Jacobs's was precisely an explanation of how bad slaves lives were and nothing more; and although Virginia Woolf's writings were not painful to read the overall style left me feeling dreamy and disconcerted (after a while all those semicolons got to me). Baldwin's writing had not only content, but a reflection upon it that I found interesting to read. He offered a fresh perspective, analyzing the social ...view middle of the document...

Baldwin writes that the things which hurt and the things which help cannot be divorced from each other. I am not sure how widely spread this idea is, but I certainly believe it. Since around the time I was in 3rd grade, I have believed that good can not exist without bad. Furthermore, I believe that the sum of one's life that he considers good and that which he considers bad will in the end come out equal. I also think that this belief leads into the second similarity I see in Baldwin and myself. Since life, all life, must have its share of highs and lows there is no point in complaining about it; that only leads to bothering other people. I see this in Baldwin when he qualifies the statement that might appear as if he were complaining: "One of the difficulties about being a Negro writer (and this is not special pleading, since I don't mean to suggest that he has it worse than anybody else) is that the Negro problem is written about so widely" (p. 5). Also, Baldwin refers to Hemingway in his penultimate paragraph of his Autobiographical Notes, when describing that Baldwin has no greater responsibility than to last and get his work done. I personally would refer to William Ernest Henley's Invictus ("My head is bloody, but unbowed"), but the overall sentiment is the same. It is possible that Baldwin's thoughts arise from the prejudice he has experienced first-hand. Perhaps he was forced to become stoic and to see the good parts in the bad because there were so many bad events. I do not believe that applies to me, but since I cannot evaluate my life objectively, I cannot fully determine whether or not it does.

The differences between our philosophies have not exhibited themselves through the short Notes that Baldwin writes. He writes that he hated and feared white people, he even writes that all American Negros share these feelings towards white people. I, however, do not fear or hate white people as a whole. I believe that I am more open and less willing to ascribe to prejudices. Even though I may have some preconceived notions...

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