Notes of a Native Son Questions and Answers
by James Baldwin

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What does Baldwin realize hatred can do to him?

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Baldwin gets to understand the source of his father’s bitterness when he moves away from home for some time. He “discovers the weight of white people in the world, and sees that this has been for his ancestors, and himself, an awful thing to live with and that the bitterness which has helped to kill his father could also kill him.” He discovers that hatred is a dangerous feeling that serves little purpose in life.

Baldwin recalls how hatred destroyed his father’s life. He recalls his father’s unintentional cruelty towards those he loved:

When he took one of his children on his knee to play, the child always became fretful and began to cry; when he tried to help one of his children with homework, the absolutely unabating tension which emanated from him caused their minds and tongues to become paralyzed.

He recalls how his...

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