"Those three years in the pulpit—I didn't understand it at the time—that is what transformed me into a writer, truly, dealing with all that misery and despair and beauty," Baldwin said of his adolescent years. Many have recognized Baldwin's great effect on the language of the church, the language of the Bible...
Baldwin's literary style is one of the most unique in American literature, distinguished by both eloquence and rhetorical power. One of Baldwin's early literary influences was the Bible. Throughout his books and short tales, he uses religious imagery and language to convey moral and political themes. His style has been described as "a mixture of biblical prose and Harlem argot," and it has been noted for its "dazzling verbal facility."
Baldwin used simple, direct sentences that are often followed by a strong verb. He also liked to use colloquialisms and aphorisms as sentence fragments that express an idea or concept. A common example is the sentence fragment "in order to find out what kind of person you are, ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." These sentence fragments are easy to understand and reflect popular beliefs at the time they were written.
In addition to being a writer, Baldwin was also an activist who fought for civil rights and social justice. As a young man, he was influenced by the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, and he wanted to be a poet or novelist like James Joyce or T. S. Eliot. But when racial segregation and discrimination became important issues in America, he decided to focus on politics and culture instead.
Baldwin wrote several essays and articles over the course of his life.
In order to increase the veracity of his writing, Baldwin employs rhetorical methods such as ethos, pathos, and logos, as well as language diversity, to appeal to his audience. Ethos is the appeal to your audience's sense of honesty and integrity by stating facts about who they are (i.e., "I am a man on my knees in front of you") or by using self-deprecation ("For I am just a silly little boy lost inside a big old body"). Pathos is making an emotional appeal to your audience by showing how someone has been wronged (i.e., "I am a man on my knees in front of you" ) or by describing a suffering animal (i.e., "For I am just a silly little boy lost inside a big old body"). Logos is making a logical appeal to your audience by presenting them with two opposing ideas and letting them decide for themselves which one is more convincing (i.e., "My black skin means that I'm full of sin, but my white skin means that I'm full of grace"), or by using statistics or evidence to support a claim.
Baldwin also uses language diversity to appeal to his audience.
Baldwin's essay's main topics are love, hatred, fury, and anger. These topics immediately become reoccurring threads that Baldwin employs throughout his essay.
Baldwin starts off by discussing love. He states that love is "the most powerful force in the world" (11). He goes on to say that it is also "the source of all human happiness and success" (11). Love is such a important topic for Baldwin because it is something that everyone needs but no one can truly own. Everyone has feelings of love and hatred towards others, this is just part of life.
Next, he discusses hatred. Hatred is an emotion that we all experience at some point in our lives. It is natural to hate someone who causes us pain or destroys what we have built, but hatred can quickly turn into fear or violence if not dealt with properly. Baldwin says that hatred is "the only cure for love" (12). This means that if you want to heal someone from a wound given by another person, you must first deal with your own hurt feelings before trying to help them.
After discussing love and hatred, he moves on to fury. Fury is a strong feeling that can take over someone when they have been hurt deeply or are being treated unfairly.
"Go Tell It on the Mountain," originally titled "Crying Holy," was composed when Baldwin quit his job as a youth pastor and left the church to become a writer. In addition, "Go Tell It on the Mountain" is dedicated to Baldwin's mother and father, both of whom appear in the novel as doppelgangers. They are represented by two characters named Tom who are used interchangeably to refer to Baldwin's parents.
Baldwin first published "Go Tell It on the Mountain" in 1953 while he was still a minister. The story is about a young black man who leaves home to seek freedom in a white world. Along the way, he encounters violence and racism but also finds love and faith.
Baldwin later said that he wrote "Go Tell It on the Mountain" in one weekend after receiving an advance payment for his first book contract. Although it was not well received by critics or readers, it made him famous and encouraged him to continue writing.
Today, "Go Tell It on the Mountain" is considered one of Baldwin's best essays. It discusses issues such as hypocrisy, identity, and rebellion with power.
James Baldwin's expressive voice spoke of the anguish and hardship of black Americans, as well as the saving force of brotherhood, in countless articles, novels, plays, and public speeches.
Baldwin's work challenged readers to consider their own attitudes toward race and racism. In doing so, he helped open up new discussions about equality for blacks in America and around the world.
Baldwin was born on January 25, 1924, in New York City. His mother was white, his father was black. He had two sisters and a brother. The family moved to Canada when Baldwin was six years old. He grew up there without knowing his father and spent most of his time with his maternal grandparents. They inspired him to become educated and help lead a better life for himself.
When Baldwin was 11 years old, his grandfather died, leaving him the money needed to go to school. That is when he started attending St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland. There he met many important people who influenced him greatly including Thoreau, Emerson, and Du Bois. After one year at college, he dropped out to work and help support his family.
Baldwin began writing poetry at age 15 and soon became involved in Harlem Renaissance culture.