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Giovanni's Room

Giovanni's Room


by James Baldwin

Giovanni's Room Guilt and Blame Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #1

I repent now – for all the good it does – one particular lie among the many lies I've told, told, lived, and believed. This is the lie which I told to Giovanni, but never succeeded in making him believe, that I had never slept with a boy before. (1.1.6)

Each time that David tells a lie, it seems as if he is trying to hide from his guilt, to avoid it. And yet each lie seems to compound his guilt, to make him feel more guilty instead of less. Is there any way out? Why do you think that he didn't tell Giovanni about Joey?

Quote #2

Ellen spoke of my mother often, saying what a remarkable woman she had been but she made me uncomfortable. I felt that I had no right to be the son of such a mother. (1.1.27)

Why, at such a young age, might David already feel guilty? Is there any way Ellen could know the effect her praise of David's mother would have on David? If David's guilt is irrational does that make it any less valid?

Quote #3

It has come to me that this woman, a peasant from Italy, must resemble, in so many ways, the mother of Giovanni. I keep trying not to hear her howls of anguish, I keep trying not to see in her eyes what would surely be there if she knew that her son would be dead by morning, if she knew what I had done to her son. (1.3.166)

David imagines that the caretaker of his house in the south of France as Giovanni's Giovanni. Before Hella left she yelled at David for loving to be guilty. How is this an instance of David loving to be guilty? How would you describe David's projection of guilt onto the caretaker? Is it sentimental?

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