Re-Reading James Baldwin: An Introduction to Rhetorical Analysis

Re-reading “Notes of a Native Son” by James Baldwin

As you re-read the Baldwin essay, please locate one or two sentences that you feel are characteristic of his prose style.  Also, locate two instances (either a sentence or a passage) when Baldwin uses the  rhetorical techniques of simile, metaphor, irony, paradox or allusion to extend and explain the meaning of a particular passage or sentence in the essay.  After you have re-read the essay, located this material, and written down the sentences or passages that you will be discussing, please respond to the following questions:


Section 1:  Characteristic Sentences

First, how and why did you choose these two sentences? 

Describe what you perceive to be the style characteristic of Baldwin in the two sentences.

What responses do these sentences elicit from you as a reader?  In other words, explain the feelings and responses you have when you read them.

What does the style of the sentences communicate to you about the writer?


Section 2:  Rhetorical Techniques

Identify the rhetorical technique that Baldwin is using in each of the two examples that you have chosen.  Describe the function of the rhetorical technique in each example.

How do the rhetorical techniques that Baldwin has used expand and extend the meaning of the sentence or passage in which they are found?

Baldwin’s essay can roughly be divided into three sections:  Section 1, which is both an introduction to the essay and also an exploration of Baldwin’s past relationship with his father; Section 2, which recounts Baldwin’s experiences in New Jersey; and Section 3, which includes a description of Baldwin’s visit with his father when he was in the hospital, Baldwin’s experiences at the funeral, and the new found insight Baldwin has about his father and into his relationship with him.  In which section does each of the two examples that you’ve chosen occur?  Is there some way in which the specific image or figure that Baldwin uses relates to the events and content of the section in which it is located?  Please explain why or why not.   
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