Free American Identity Essay Sample

This is a reaction to an article by James Baldwin on the issue of American identity.  Being American according to Baldwin is a complex fate. He views America as a unique nation whose achievements are quite unique from other nations. The author claims to have left America for Europe in search of his real identity instead of just being "merely negro." The author depicts America as a nation with a big problem with the colour of its people. Reading through the article one gets the idea that colour problem acts as a barrier to work of art such as writing.

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Baldwin in this article brings out contradictory views about America. While at one moment the author suggests that America does not gave a chance to artists to rise up just like in Europe, the author seem to indicate that America makes it possible for people to know each other pretty well but becomes aware of this once they are out of America. One may get the feeling that this might be some of the reasons which make it hard being American.

The author uses a writer to bring out the difference between being an American and a European. The author brings out the picture that Europe is a place where a writer gets the opportunity to fully explore his/her writing talent. This is in contrast to America where a writer does not mean anything especially when the case is a Negro writer. In this manner, America is viewed as a place which does not only provide opportunity but also hinders talents from sprouting.  The author accredits this to the tradition that is held by America. These traditions, seemingly, make it very complicated for one to be American. The author depicts America has a place which has great opportunities which can only shine out of it.

Baldwin delves further into the challenges posed by America's color problem, highlighting how it permeates various aspects of society, including the realm of art. The author suggests that the issue of color becomes a barrier to the creation and appreciation of works of art, particularly in the context of writing. This implies a broader societal challenge that goes beyond personal identity, impacting the very fabric of cultural and artistic expression within the nation.

Moreover, Baldwin's exploration of America's impact on artists reveals a nuanced perspective. On one hand, he contends that America restricts the ascent of artists, especially when compared to the more nurturing environment for creativity found in Europe. On the other hand, Baldwin hints at an ironic revelation — individuals may only fully grasp the extent of this restriction once they step outside the boundaries of America. This paradoxical insight deepens the narrative, suggesting that the challenges of being American might be inherently tied to a lack of awareness about those challenges within the confines of the nation itself.

The role of tradition in shaping the American experience is a key element in Baldwin's analysis. He posits that deep-seated traditions within the American context contribute to the complexity of being American. These traditions, it seems, not only offer opportunities but also pose formidable obstacles to the emergence of a truly liberated and authentic American identity. Baldwin's exploration of tradition adds a layer of historical and cultural context to the essay, emphasizing the enduring struggle for individual and artistic expression within the framework of American identity.

In essence, Baldwin's essay paints a multifaceted portrait of America, where the pursuit of identity, particularly for artists, is entangled with intricate issues of race, tradition, and the paradoxical nature of opportunities and restrictions within the nation.


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