Compare James Baldwin's view of personal liberation with Jamaica Kincaid's
Compare James Baldwin's view of personal liberation with Jamaica Kincaid's
In this paper, the ideas of liberation have been discussed from the perspective of James Baldwin and Jamaica Kincaid. The ideas of both these authors have been derived from their writings. The writings of James Baldwin, which have been used to understand his point of view, include, going to meet the Man, This Morning, This Evening, So Soon, and others. The movie of James Baldwin i.e. the Price of the Ticket has also been analyzed. On the other side, Jamaica Kincaid’s book Lucy has been used for this paper.
James Baldwin’s idea of personal liberation is different from that of Jamaica Kincaid in such a manner that Baldwin has talked about liberation from the external environmental pressures while Kincaid has discussed personal liberation in the context of family relationships.
According to the argument of Baldwin, personal liberation is not possible when a person limits oneself from external influences or situations (Fujita, 2012). A common theme found in the writings of James Baldwin is the freedom from racism. The idea of personal freedom was central to the life of Baldwin. All of the writings of James Baldwin provide meaningful insight to personal liberation from racism. In the book, ‘Going to Meet the Man,’ the leading figure was a White sheriff. In the book, Baldwin has discussed how the character had to remember a violent act in order to have sexual intercourse with his wife. The capability of the sheriff was limited by his thoughts. In general, the book reminds the audience about how a person gets limited by his or her own capabilities. The challenge in such situations is to liberate oneself from all the difficulties and challenges (Fujita, 2012).
Baldwin’s idea of personal freedom can also be derived from ‘Sonny’s Blues.’ This piece of writing depicts the expression of personal freedom through music. In ‘Sonny’s Blues,’ Baldwin has explained how Sonny used music as a way to get freedom and utilized it as an art to create new things. In the story, Sunny was dealing with several challenges of his life including the death of his parents, the separation from brother, and other difficulties. The harsh realities of his life urged him to look for liberation. He found this freedom in the music. Sonny wished to be stay free from all his problems. He used music as a cure to get rid of his addiction. In this story, Baldwin has discussed how some people get involved with music in order to discover personal freedom that they did not experience before (Fujita, 2012). According to this argument of Baldwin, art is a way to get personal liberation.
Another argument of Baldwin about personal liberation comes from ‘This Morning, This Evening and so Soon;’ in this piece of writing, Baldwin has probed the question of black American identity (Golden, Wormser and Blood, n.d). The protagonist of this story is an African American Musician. The narrator and the protagonist of the story believed that the United States was a marginalizing country and he aimed to find personal liberation. The protagonist of the story decided to leave his homeland in order to find solace. This argument suggests that migration is also used by people to seek liberation from worries, which are prevalent in the environment.
The idea of personal freedom has also been discussed in the movie of Baldwin i.e. ‘A Price to the Ticket.’ In the movie, Baldwin has taken the readers back to the year 1924. The movie has shown how Baldwin left for France at a young age in order to get freedom from racial hostility and oppression. In order to achieve personal liberation, Baldwin relied on his body of writings (Fujita, 2012).
Jamaica Kincaid is also a significant author who has shared the concept of personal freedom in her writings. An important piece of her writings is the story “Lucy”. In the story, the central character is Lucy, a nineteen-year-old girl from the West Indies, who comes to North America seeking work. According to Moore (2008), the focus of the writings of Kincaid was personal liberation of women from the dominance of different members of the society. This differentiates Kincaid from Baldwin who has discussed personal liberation in the context of music, migration, and racism.
In the story, ‘Lucy,’ Jamaica Kincaid has shown how the central character of the story decided not to love someone because of the fear that it would be a threat for her personal freedom (Moore, 2008). In the story, Lucy chose sex instead of love to demonstrate her personal liberation. The same idea has also been shared in the novel ‘Annie John’ who did not want to get married because she desired freedom and independence.
Baldwin’s idea of personal freedom is different from that of Kincaid. The personal liberation thoughts of Baldwin are deeply rooted in the concerns for racism and on the other side; the ideas of Jamaica Kincaid are based on the complexity of relationships. In her writings, Kincaid has talked about liberation from the pressures posed by relationships. On the other side, Baldwin has discussed personal liberation in the context of pressures imposed by different external environment forces. For example, in his writings, Baldwin has described how his characters were seeking independence from the troubles of their lives through migration and music (Golden, Wormser and Blood, n.d). On the other side, Kincaid has described how her characters were struggling to keep themselves liberated. In the novel, Lucy, Kincaid has discussed the sexual liberation of Lucy in order to resist the dominant society (Moore, 2008).
James Baldwin has made important contributions to the understanding of personal liberation. He has used race and sexuality as important concepts for explaining the creation of identity. He believed that without personal liberation, people are unlivable, unspeakable, and unanswerable. James Baldwin was an African American writer who was well aware of the hardships of Blacks. Baldwin realized that in order to achieve personal freedom, it is important for an individual to understand one’s own innate and complicated humanity and let it prosper.
James Baldwin’s idea of personal liberation has also been discussed in ‘My Dungeon Shook.’ In the story, Baldwin has shared his idea of coping with the world that is an obstruction in the personal freedom of Black. The writings of Baldwin argue about the unjust structure of the society. Baldwin has not only argued about the freedom of Black but also the White.
Baldwin has spent a large portion of his time on identifying the true meanings of liberation. According to the arguments of Baldwin, personal liberation is not something that individuals can get free. In fact, we have to fight in order to get it (Golden, Wormser and Blood, n.d). Furthermore, Baldwin has also argued that the prerequisite for personal liberation is moral agency. Baldwin has described liberation through different ways include maturity, state of being present, flexibility, and others. In most of his writings, Baldwin has argued about the liberation of Black. Baldwin believed that the personal liberation involves accepting the un-freedom of life and not allowing it to defeat oneself .
The difference between Baldwin’s idea of liberation and Kincaid’s idea of liberation is in terms of the nature of liberation. In her writings, Kincaid has talked about the personal liberation of women from domination. The narrative of Kincaid is often about the conflicts faced by young women with domination, which is mostly by her mother. In her writings, Kincaid has often discussed the efforts of women to recreate them (Moore, 2008). On the other side, narrators in the writings of Baldwin often struggle from racism or from environmental pressures. Baldwin’s writings have challenged orthodoxy. In his writings, Baldwin has portrayed the racial conflicts within the society.
Marita Golden, Baron Wormser, and Liz Blood have conducted an important literary criticism for the writings of James Baldwin. These authors have analyzed various writings of Baldwin and presented his idea of liberation in the following words:
“The son who he saw as blaspheming the faith by turning to writing used words, language, imagination to minister to black and white and to show black and white the path to real freedom—love.” (Golden, Wormser and Blood, n.d)
The words of these critics suggest that the real freedom or liberation, according to Baldwin was love. The literary criticism of Jamaica Kincaid’s writings by Julie Moore shows how Kincaid has explained the pressures by family members influence the independence of women. The following excerpts from the critic explain the pressure from the mother on her daughter in the writings of Kincaid:
“The long sentences in stream of consciousness style show how repressive the mother's demands are to a modern woman.” (Golden, Wormser and Blood, n.d)
According to the critic, the novels and stories of Kincaid are often based on the generation gap between mother and daughter. The stories discuss how mothers treat their daughters in order to develop them into proper woman. Jamaica Kincaid’s ‘Girl’ is an excellent demonstration of the pressures exerted by mothers on their daughters that deprive them from their liberation (Moore, 2008).
Kincaid has also talked about the personal liberation of women from the unwanted child. According to the one of the critics, Kincaid believed that women have the control and power to get rid of the unwanted child. The kind of control, mentioned by Kincaid is immense and powerful.
Both Baldwin and Kincaid believe that personal liberation is important in order to be a healthy human being and to be a good artist. In the novel Lucy, Kincaid has discussed that the personal liberation is a privilege allows a person to be happy. The author has also discussed that the life lose its charm when a person fails to protect it from unhappiness. The external pressures and influences often limit our personal freedom and force us to think within boundaries defined by others. In order to truly pursue personal liberation, it is important to liberate ourselves from all sorts of limitations.
On the other side, James Baldwin believes that the primary distinction of a good artist is that he or she conquers the great wilderness. In order to be a good artist, it is important to illuminate the darkness that prevails within us. Baldwin believes that in order to be a healthy person and a good artist, it is important to distinguish oneself from all external forces of the society. It is because these forces limit the ability of an individual to think creatively and independently.
In his writings, James Baldwin has often talked about the anonymity faced by African Americans in the world. The characters of Baldwin’s novels and stores are intense who are struggling from independence from the challenges of life.
The critics have also explained the idea of Baldwin regarding a good artist. In the essay, ‘Alas, Poor Richard,’ Baldwin has discussed the relationship between a younger writer and an older writer. In this piece of writings, Baldwin said that even the best artists were subjected to criticism and anguish (Golden, Wormser and Blood, n.d). Therefore, in order to become a good artist, it is important to deal with all kind of challenges. At the same time, it is also important for artists to protect themselves from the negative influence of various harsh and fierce forces.
According to Golden, Wormser and Blood, the writings of Jamaica Kincaid are motivating for the typical Caribbean woman. Similarly, the writings of James Baldwin are motivating for African American population. Kincaid has defined the role of women in the society and their struggles faced by them. On the other side, Baldwin has talked about the challenges of Black population. The writings of Kincaid have the power to empower women. On the other side, the writings of Baldwin allow people to seek different methods to get liberation; for example, music.
According to Golden, Wormser and Blood, Kincaid has explored and discussed gender-oriented topics in her writings while Baldwin has talked about homosexuality. Baldwin has shared the terror of human life and introduced the quest for liberation. Kincaid has also introduced the concept of liberation by discussing the plight of Caribbean women.
According to Golden, Wormser and Blood (n.d), Baldwin believes for good a health and to be a good artist, it is important to understand the limits imposed on us. Once we understand those limits, we would be able to liberate ourselves from them. On the other side, Kincaid has talked about the control of women in their lives. Kincaid has advised women to control their lives in order to stay healthy and happy.
According to the arguments presented in this paper, personal liberation is an important concept in the writings of James Baldwin and Jamaica Kincaid. According to both these authors, personal liberation limits people from thinking creatively. In order to stay happy, it is important for people to liberate themselves from the external pressures and control. The authors have also discussed that the role of personal liberation in the lives of artists. In order to be a good artist, it is important to liberate one from all negative forces.
Fujita, R (2012) Critical Essay on "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid, Retrieved from http://hawkenscribe.blogspot.com/2012/12/critical-essay-on-girl-by-jamaica.html, Dated 5th December, 2013
Golden, M, Wormser, B and Blood, L (n.d) “James Baldwin: A Conversational Review.” Retrieved from http://www.hungermtn.org/james-baldwin-a-conversational-review/, Dated 5th December, 2013
Moore, J (2008) “Jamaica Kincaid’s ‘Girl’--How Structure and Language Convey Tone and Theme, Yahoo Voices, Retrieved from http://voices.yahoo.com/jamaica-kincaids-girlhow-structure-2318519.html?cat=38, Dated 5th December, 2013