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Giovanni's Room

Giovanni's Room


by James Baldwin

Giovanni's Room Visions of America Quotes

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

Quote #1

His smile made me feel a little foolish. "Well," I said, "Paris is old, is many centuries. You feel, in Paris, all the time gone by. That isn't what you feel in New York-" He was smiling. I stopped.

"What do you feel in New York?" he asked.

"Perhaps you feel," I told him, "all the time to come. There's such power there, everything is in such movement. You can't help wondering – I can't help wondering – what it will all be like – many years from now." (1.2.90-92)

What about Paris might make one feel "all the time gone by"? What in New York might make one feel "all the time to come"? How do David's characterizations of America and Europe all describe the difference between him and Giovanni?

Quote #2

" The ocean is very wide," I said. "We have led different lives than you, things have happened to us there which have never happened here. Surely you can understand that this would make us a different people?"

"Ah! If it had only made you a different people!" he laughed. "But it seems to have turned you into another species. You are not, are you, on another planet? For I suppose that would explain everything." (1.2.96-97)

Why do you think that David and Giovanni begin their conversation by talking about the differences between Europeans and Americans? How are they speaking indirectly to each other by describing their countries? Can you find any basis for Giovanni's prejudices against Americans?

Quote #3

"The Americans are funny. You have a funny sense of time – or perhaps you have no sense of time at all, I can't tell. Time always sounds like a parade chez vous – a triumphant parade, like armies with banners entering a town. As though, with enough time, and that would not need to be so very much for Americans, n'est-ce pas?" and he smiled, giving me a mocking look, but I said nothing. "Well then," he continued, "as though with enough time and all that fearful energy and virtue you people have, everything will be settled, solved, put in its place. And when I say everything," he added, grimly, "I mean all the serious, dreadful things, like pain and death and love, in which you Americans do not believe." (1.2.101)

What does Giovanni mean when he says that Americans do not believe in "pain and death and love"? Think ahead to his relationship with David. How do these words come to have a different meaning after their time together comes to an end? Do David's problems with "pain and death and love" have anything to do with his being an American?

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