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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 422

Another Country is a novel by James Baldwin that examines the lives of marginalized people, including gay folks, poor folks, and people of color. The novel takes place in Greenwich Village, Harlem in the 1950s.

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  • "Most people have not lived—nor could it, for that matter, be said that they had died—through any of their terrible events. They had simply been stunned by the hammer. They passed their lives thereafter in a kind of limbo of denied and unexamined pain."

Here Baldwin expresses themes of running from suffering, hiding from oneself, and numbing one's emotional experience. Throughout the novel, people suppress, ignore, or resist their emotional experience of the world as a way of coping with what might otherwise be overwhelming suffering. Though numbing-out emotionally may work partially, Baldwin wants us to become aware of the cost of this type of internal repression. It prevents a person from growing, and from experiencing themselves and others fully.

  • "Perhaps such secrets, the secrets of everyone, were only expressed when the person laboriously dragged them into the world, imposed them on the world, and made them a part of the world's experience. Without this effort, the secret place was merely a dungeon in which the person perished; without this effort, indeed, the entire world would be an uninhabitable darkness."

Symbols of darkness, incarceration, shadow, and suppression feature significantly in this work. Here, Baldwin describes the process of coming out of the shadows of suppression and into the light of acknowledgement and acceptance. We cannot change the past; we cannot erase even our most heinous actions. What we can do,...

(The entire section contains 422 words.)

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