by James Baldwin
Giovanni's Room Men and Masculinity Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph)
I was in the bed upstairs, asleep. It was quite late. I was suddenly awakened by the sound of my father's footfalls on the walk beneath my window. I could tell by the sound and the rhythm that he was a little drunk and I remember at that moment a certain disappointment, an unprecedented sorrow entered into me. I had seen him drunk many times and had never felt this way – on the contrary, my father sometimes had great charm when he was drunk – but that night, I suddenly felt that there was something in it, in him, to be despised. (1.1.30)
What expectations did David have of his father that were disappointed on this night? Did he know that he had them? Might he have been less disappointed if he was acutely aware of them? Why does David use the word despised? Do you think that he could explain his word choice if you asked him?
"A man," said Ellen, shortly, "is not the same thing as a bull. Good-night." (1.1.48)
What is Ellen trying to say to David's father? Is David's father really acting like a bull? To what extent do her prejudices about men affect David's later neuroses regarding his masculinity?
We were not like father and son, my father sometimes proudly said, we were like buddies. I think my father sometimes actually believed this. I never did. I did not want to be his buddy, I wanted to be his son. What passed between us as masculine candor exhausted and appalled me. (1.1.54)
What exactly is "masculine candor"? Why does David think that this candor should not exist between a father and a son? What about David's situation made such candor particularly unappealing?