James Baldwin

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What prevents David, from "Giovanni's Room", from being "whole" in France?

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David has lived a tragic and tormented childhood and youth. His mother died when he was five-years old and he has grown up with his sister under the care of their manly father. A tragic decision leaves the mother's picture on the living room wall (as is the case with the missing father's photo in The Glass Menagerie). The consequence is that David has secret nightmares about his mother that he dare not tell the truth about. When he awakens screaming, he lies and says he dreamed of graveyards.

When a boy, he has an equally unfortunate too-early experience of sexual intimacy with his best friend. It was unfortunate in that as boys, neither David nor Joey, were not grown up enough to process their desires or emotions or personal reactions to the experience. This venture into sexuality at too young an age added another gaping wound to David's already bleeding psyche. David's estrangement from himself and life only deepens.

After school, David chooses to quit his job and go to France where he feels he may find a newness and a place to fit in. After several reletionships with differnet people, David rejects all, looses all, teras up the evidence of anything having been and walks away, as some of the bits of torn paper blow back on him.

Some commentators suggest that it is David's confusion resulting from his denial of, his refusal to accept his sexual orientation that is the force that prevents David from being whole. Other commentators suggest that it is David's trauma-filled child- and boyhood that cause the devastating turmoil of his mind that then results in the confusion that leads to his inability to comprehend himself on any level in any terms, including, but not to, sexuality.

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