My Dungeon Shook

I am ignorant when it comes to the topic of the Civil Rights Movement. Martin Luther King Jr.’s name comes to mind, but I don’t really have much if any idea of who he was. This may change as I interact with the people at MCTC. For my College English 1 class this semester, we are required to read some of James Baldwin. My instructor says that his writing was a sort of catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement. 
My writing reflections observations assignment follows:

Katrina Zartman

Professor Haven Stephens

ENGL 1110- 24

Vintage Baldwin: "My Dungeon Shook"

January 25th 2006

According to the Course Overview, Professor Stephens wants us to "think about how and why writing emerges in particular situations". She says that we " are interacting with other writers and readers, adding [our] voice, experience, and perspective". James Baldwin is an interesting voice to listen to. His letter to his namesake nephew, communicates an unexpected perspective on the conflict between blacks and whites. The author begins by expressing first of all his struggle to even write the letter. Does he tear up the letter five times because he is not confident that it will evoke the desired response, or because he is dissatisfied with the format? Surely, he wasn’t just correcting grammatical errors! As we continue reading, we see what The Penguin Handbook defines as a "writer’s ethos." James’ uncle has his "needs in mind" and is "knowledgeable about the subject." The letter writing is poured out from a loving heart. He encourages his nephew to be strong and to continue in life because of that love. The author establishes his credibility by reflecting on their family life, past and present. He explains the conflict between white men and black men as unfair, but not completely intentional. Rather than condemn the white men for their injustice to the black individuals, he says that whites’ beliefs were forced upon them and that thy were even acting out of fear of loss of their own identity. I am not familiar with the author’s background, but in this letter he seems Christ-like in his expression of mercy and grace. His desire is that his nephew work for "acceptance and integration" with the undeserving. Baldwin says that they "with love, shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it." He ends his appeal by reminding his nephew of his blood that runs not only with physical strength of "sturdy, peasant stock," but also the mental strength of poets. This encourages the reader to take the perspective that understanding and hard work rather than making "peace with mediocrity" are essential to the establishment of an integrated America.

Categories: Books | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “My Dungeon Shook

  1. dm

    Don’t let the "Liberal" views of others influence you!
    Just a word of caution!

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