Notes of a Native Son Questions and Answers
by James Baldwin

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How does Baldwin structure "Notes of a Native Son"?

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Thanh Munoz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Baldwin's famous collection of essays has a tripartite structure. In part 1, the three essays deal with depictions of the African American experience in books and in film. Part 2 contains essays that detail Baldwin's own personal experiences in the United States and his relationship to his family; part 3's essays deal with his time as an expatriate in France and present his observations on how black people are treated in Europe, in juxtaposition to their experience in America.

The reason for this structure is that it corresponds in part to the chronology of Baldwin's life, prefaced with the essays of part 1 that give a kind of theoretical underpinning to the overall themes of the book. The first three essays also establish what would have been considered, at the time, unorthodox thinking on Baldwin's part by many readers. For different reasons, he rejects literature that has been thought representative of or sympathetic to African Americans, in particular Richard Wright's Native Son. In...

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