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Giovanni's Room

Giovanni's Room


by James Baldwin

Giovanni Timeline and Summary

  • In the first chapter we learn that Giovanni is going to be executed, and that David lied to Giovanni and told him he'd never slept with a boy before.
  • David meets Giovanni his second year in Paris. Giovanni is working as a bartender at Guillaume's bar.
  • Initially, it is Jacques who is attracted to Giovanni.
  • Yet, when David offers to buy him a drink, the two of them begin flirting. They banter about the differences between Americans and Europeans.
  • Giovanni is very aggressive and makes it clear that he likes David. Everyone in the bar takes notice.
  • After the bar closes, Giovanni takes David, Jacques, and Guillaume to a café near Les Halles.
  • In the cab he takes David's hand, though David shakes it off.
  • It is clear that everyone in the café knows Giovanni and likes him.
  • Giovanni asks David to sit in the back with him and eat oysters. He tells the story of how he came to work for Guillaume. He says that Guillaume is a dirty old man and that he hates him.
  • Giovanni talks David into coming home with him. As soon as they are inside, he pounces on David. David wants to resist, but he cannot.
  • David begins to live with Giovanni. They live cut off from the world, and spend almost all their time together.
  • They fight, though, because Giovanni does not understand why they will have to separate when Hella returns.
  • He thinks it is silly that Hella is in Spain and keeps asking David to affirm that he will not leave him.
  • David is happy to be with Giovanni, but he is also ashamed of what takes place between them.
  • Giovanni's room is a mess. He plans to renovate it, and David thinks that he is trying to renovate his life. In the mess, David thinks that he sees pain and desperation.
  • Giovanni continues to kid David about being an American, which makes him feel very isolated. After receiving letters from his father and Hella, David goes to Montparnasse and sleeps with a girl.
  • When David returns, he finds Giovanni in despair.
  • Giovanni tells him that Guillaume fired him. Not only that, but he made a huge scene and accused Giovanni of being a thief and of taking advantage of him.
  • Giovanni says that if it were not for David, this would be the end for him.
  • Giovanni tries to carve a bookcase in the wall of his room.
  • When David suggests that they will both go home one day, Giovanni says he no longer has a home in Italy. He predicts the same is true for David in America.
  • Giovanni asks David to confirm that he will never leave him. As the two of them are working on the bookcase, he demands that David hug him. When David hesitates, it feels like the two of them could beat each other to death with the bricks.
  • Hella arrives and David leaves without telling Giovanni.
  • After three days, Giovanni finds David and Hella in a bookstore. He called Jacques and has been desperately looking for David since he left.
  • He makes a big scene in the store and demands to know why David left without telling him. When he and David are alone, he tells him that he has been very mean.
  • Later, Hella asks about Giovanni and David lies. He says that he is passionate by nature and that his mistress recently left him, which is why he is so desperate.
  • The next night, David goes to leave Giovanni. Giovanni is in tears. He accuses David of never having loved him or anyone, of acting like a little virgin trying to protect his purity.
  • Giovanni says Hella is a stupid and silly girl. He tells the story of what happened in Italy and reveals that he and his wife had a stillborn child there.
  • After he realizes that nothing he says will make David stay, he becomes very calm and strange.
  • Though he leaves him, David continues to ask after Giovanni.
  • For a time, Giovanni lets Jacques take care of him. Then he breaks with him and begins hanging out with the street boys.
  • David hears Giovanni may get his job back, but then Guillaume is found dead with the sash of his dressing gown around his neck.
  • The murder creates an enormous scandal, and Giovanni is slandered in the paper.
  • He is found after a week hiding out in a barge on the Seine. He still has Guillaume's money on him. He cries for mercy and forgiveness.
  • He pleads guilty to murder with robbery as the motive, and is sentenced to death by guillotine.
  • David imagines that Guillaume humiliated Giovanni and that his death was an accident, but no one actually knows what happened.