Study Guide

Joey in Giovanni's Room

By James Baldwin


Joey was a friend of David's when he lived in Brooklyn. One summer the two of them went to Coney Island. They stayed at Joey's house, which was empty because his parents were away on vacation. They went to the beach and to the movies together, and when they returned home, they slept in the same bed.

They bantered a bit in bed, which unexpectedly turned into a kiss, and then the two of them made love. The next morning David was ashamed of what happened and left early. Speaking of the following days, David says, "He did not come to see me. I would have been very happy to see him had he, but the manner of my leavetaking had begun a constriction which neither of us knew how to arrest" (1.1.20). When David saw Joey some time after, David lied and said that he had started dating a girl. At school, David began to be very cruel to Joey, and the more timid Joey became, the meaner David was in response.

Not long after, Joey moved away.