If Beale Street Could Talk Questions and Answers
by James Baldwin

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"It means that others love him, too, love him so much that they have set me free to be there. He is not alone; we are not alone." (James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk) What does this say about the role of religion and state of the time period (contemporary America)?

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In James Baldwin’s 1974 novel If Beale Street Could Talk, religion is presented in the sadly cynical manner that inevitably resulted from its application by those who claimed to speak on the Lord’s behalf while casting forth judgments in His name that represented an entirely other and vastly more hateful perspective.  In Beale’s narrative, the most religious character is Alice Hunt, who is also, not coincidentally, the most spiteful and angry.  While both Tish and Fonny’s families support their relationship and welcome the imminent arrival of the separated couple’s baby, Alice stands out for her anger and bitterness towards her would-be daughter-in-law for the sin of tainting her son.  An early hint at Alice’s character, and of Baldwin’s indictment of the perversion of religion, is offered by her husband, Frank, who, in contrast to Alice, joyfully awaits the baby’s birth and Tish and Fonny’s eventual union:

"Whatever Alice don't feel like being bothered with," Frank...

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