• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Despair in James Baldwin's 'Another Country'

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

'Then the discontented wanderer is thrown back on himself - if his life is to become bearable, only he can make it so. And, on that spring evening, walking up the long, dark, murmuring street toward the boulevard, Eric was in despair. He knew that he had to make a life, but he did not seem to have the tools' (Another Country, pp.213/4). Discuss the sources of discontentment AND/OR despair. The depiction of despair, in varying forms perhaps predominantly engendered in its purest form within the individual character's guilt as a fundamental essence of their characterisation. Guilt haunts the main character in Another Country; Rufus is tormented by the responsibility he assumes in the institutionalisation of Leona, thus contributing to his escalating mental despair. This is expressed in the present tense narrative penetrating his thoughts: 'He felt black, filthy, foolish. He wished he were miles away, or dead. He kept thinking of Leona; it came in waves, like the pain of a toothache or a festering wound' (Baldwin, p. ...read more.

Middle

93). In Another Country, Baldwin presents characters who are attempting to transcend social limitations in order to express, and establish, their self-identity. Through the characterisation of Rufus, Baldwin explores the destructive nature of social barriers on the 'self'; Rufus fails to overcome the racial and sexual limitations society imposes on self-expression and as a result, commits suicide due to his mounting despair and social isolation: 'Beneath them Rufus walked, one of the fallen - for the weight of this city was murderous...Entirely alone, and dying of it, he was part of an unprecedented multitude' (Baldwin, p. 14). The 'weight of this city' is metaphorical for the social limitations imposed, especially, upon people trying to define their own self-identity, leaving him 'entirely alone', resulting in his suicide. Rufus' awareness of society's explicit racial prejudices are expressed in the focalised narrative attached to Rufus: 'No one dared to look at Vivaldo, out with any girl whatever, the way the look at Rufus now...This was because Vivaldo was white' (Baldwin, p. ...read more.

Conclusion

of his despair; : 'We've all been up the same streets...Only we've been taught to lie so much, about so many things, that we hardly know where we are' (Baldwin, p. 59). Society's limitations have taught the characters to 'lie so much' to themselves - to focus on an illusion rather than reality - and therefore repress their true identity. Rufus cannot overcome the 'categorical barriers' imposed by society unlike Vivaldo who, by the end of the novel, has confronted his sexuality, leaving him feeling 'fantastically protected, liberated' (Baldwin, p. 379) in realising his 'self' and overcoming his discontenting ambiguous identity. In conclusion, through the characterisation of Rufus in Another Country, Baldwin explores the detrimental effects that social isolation, both self-imposed and socially imposed, together with self-denial and ambiguous or undefined self-identity has on individual expression, self-worth and ultimately the fate of the characters. The despair that results from the guilt and isolation presented in conjunction with the central characters is essential to the reader's understanding of the characterisation employed by Baldwin, and provides the central platform in which the demise of the characters is explored and understood. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Authors section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Authors essays

  1. Explore the different forms of haunting in Toni Morrisons Beloved.

    has released his emotions and memories; before it was simply an account of events but after it becomes much more personal. Also, when Beloved is first introduced, she is clearly very sick; she describes her legs as heavy and suffers from what is described as sounding like 'croup'.

  2. The Sound and the Fury. Faulkners application of certain diction for Benjy, Quentin ...

    Also seeing buzzards reminded Benjy of the bones of an animal called Nancy, which the buzzards were eating. This memory lead to another memory of Caddy asking whether the buzzards were going to eat their dead grandmother, Damuddy. The events presented in the "Benjy" section of the novel using the stream of consciousness technique revealed Benjy's relation with his family.

  1. There is always another side, always(TM) How does Jean Rhys demonstrate her understanding of ...

    themselves as an 'interloper and an alien', both are separated from their parents either physically or emotionally which draws a similarity between the lives of nineteenth century women at this time. One of the featured themes and important aspects of Wide Sargasso Sea is the complete misunderstanding of two very different cultures; English and Jamaican.

  2. Red Dog vs. White Fang

    Even the name that Judge Scott promises to use 'hence-forth' is religious. This shows that the wolf is worshipped much like a god, which is contrary to the rest of the book which portrays the human species as god. We can see that the relationship between canis lupus and humankind is two-sided.

  1. The treatment of race in Toni Morrison's "Recitatif"

    This description suggests a stereotypical black person - big, wearing a huge cross and carrying a Bible. But again it might be very misleading. Not only African-Americans are associated with such image of a very religious person. It also resembles very religious white people living in the "Bible Belt" -

  2. "He wasn't just another hero, was he? He was more complicated. Poor Carlo."What is ...

    However it is in chapter 10, "L' Omosessuale (3)" that we see true development of Carlo's 'heroic' nature. In this chapter in which Carlo is sent to kill his own men to provoke war between Greece and Germany Carlo we understand that Carlo is 'different' to the other people in the war.

  1. Captain Gray's journal

    The 29th Division are waiting for us and I fail to see the point of this codswallop about the wire being cut, when it isn't!?!

  2. Self-Delusion and Blindness in O'Connor's "Good Country People"

    Hopewell, experiences the consequences of her inflated sense of self-importance, as her daughter, Hulga, is aware of her mother?s arrogance, which proves to be detrimental to their relationship and understanding of one another. Mrs. Freeman suffers as well, as she believes that she can do no wrong and ?[can]

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work