Assignment for Friday, 9/30
"I would try to make [the student] know that just as American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it, so is the world larger, more daring, more beautiful and more terrible, but principally larger – and that it belongs to him. I would teach him that he doesn’t have to be bound by the expediencies of any given administration, any given policy, any given morality; that he has the right and the necessity to examine everything" -James Baldwin
In this assignment, I am referencing off of this quote (provided by assignment)
In Baldwin’s “A Talk to Teachers,” he uses history, beliefs, obstacles, and hope as a means to show what is wrong with society in the racial matter. His biggest point throughout his piece was for teachers and how a man grows up educated by what is present in the environment and what is provided to him. When Baldwin states that, “the world is larger,” he successfully criticizes and gives hope to whoever is reading.
Baldwin’s use of words, especially the word “so is” and “but.” He calls the world “larger, more daring, more beautiful and more terrible, but principally larger,” after stating that “American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.” He uses the words “so is” to conjoin the sentences, almost forming a comparison that humbles the belief and the reader that there’s a lot more to the world than just American history. The word “but” is used to provide an image that the world is much larger than America itself and that there’s much more that exists. I feel that this side-by-side comparison plays a very important role because a majority of this piece was criticizing the American belief of white superiority and how a race can be superior through the belief of myths.
In contrast, I also believe that Baldwin stating “the world is larger” gives the reader hope. He contradicts himself when he says that the world is “more beautiful and more terrible,” but he finishes it with, “but principally larger- and that it belongs to him.” I think that that was a strong sentence that illustrates that the world is beautiful, yet ugly, but it is large and it is your life, your choices, and your beliefs. I believe Baldwin is stressing the idea that one really matures once one realizes this and starts making choices of their own and that they are not bound by “any given administration, any given policy, any given morality. that he has the right and necessity to examine everything.”
I believe that not only me, but everybody has the necessity to examine and the obligation to learn more about. I think that Baldwin makes the claim that when you grow up believing one side of history, it shadows over the culture and historic background of others. Without seeing a different point of view, you may believe that the villain in another story is a hero with no consequences. This is definitely what I would’ve wanted more context on in class because I’m used to learning about these historic figures who are captured as heroes, but in the eyes of another, they were not so heroic.
In conclusion, Baldwin’s use of wording in this quote is very powerful and beautiful. It has multiple meanings to it and can be perceived in many different ways. Baldwin’s use of self-awareness toward the reader is phenomenal.
Leave a Reply