Pg 93 starts by talking about the remote village and how little

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Todd May
March 19, 2008
English 101
Baldwin Summary
In his essay “Stranger in the Village” James Baldwin talks about his experience as the
first black man to a tiny Swiss village and compares that to how he was treated in America. He
starts by talking about the remote village and how little modern technology they had. There were
two vehicles and one typewriter which belonged to Baldwin. There were no banks, libraries, or
theatres.
Then Baldwin talks about the children calling him a Neger when he was walking. At first
he just smiled and tried to be polite but he did not think that they saw his smile and would not
notice if he just snarled instead. Although he knew they were not trying to be unkind. He was
different and they were curious about him. Some of them though his hair was the color of tar and
would rub it after being in the sun for a while thinking that the color would go away but it did
not. The people just could not understand how a black man could come from America.
Baldwin claims he went to that village to work since there were not many distractions
there. He was told of a custom that the village had to buy African natives and convert them to
Christianity. Baldwin was told that the year before they “bought” six or eight native Africans. He
claims that by telling him that they thought that he might be more comfortable in the village
since they cared for Africans.
Baldwin then briefly discusses how different it is for the first black man to a white
community versus the first white man to a black community. The white man comes with power
and domination whereas the black man is looked upon as just a stranger. Baldwin discusses how
the American Negro slaves are different from other black men. In about one blow the slaves had
their past taken from them. The slave’s life changed when he became a slave. His past was
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erased. He was not able to trace his ancestors back past when he was bought and his master
always had power which he could not hope to obtain.
For several generations in America there has been the burning question about the Negro’s
rights and humanity. If Americans accept blacks then their white status would be jeopardized,
but not accepting them would be denying their humanity. Blacks have fought for an identity in
America and have won. Europe does not have this problem since the black man basically does
not exist in Europe.
He concludes by discussing how “the American vision of the world…allows so little
reality, generally speaking, for any darker forces in human life” (101). Americans have created a
new black man along with a new white man. He says that there is not possible way America can
go back to simpler ways like the village in Europe where he was just treated as a stranger and not
having his humanity questioned. He claims Americans have been much more deeply involved in
the lives of blacks than any other people. He finishes by saying “This world is white no longer,
and it will never be white again” (102). Throughout the essay Baldwin is explaining how
Americans have not made it easy on Negro people. In Europe he was treated as a stranger but he
did not have his rights or humanity questioned because of his skin color.
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