Study Guide

Giovanni's Room Men and Masculinity

By James Baldwin

Men and Masculinity

David has a lot of ideas about what it means to be a man. He articulates some of them, and he leaves others implicit. His relationship with his father early on in the book begins to shape his ideas in ways that he does not even realize. One of David's problems in Giovanni's Room is that his idea of manhood is not flexible enough to adapt to his changing circumstances, specifically his romantic relationship with Giovanni.

Questions About Men and Masculinity

  1. How does David's relationship with father shape his ideas about masculinity? Is the influence of his father for good or for ill?
  2. What role does sexual desire play in notions of masculinity? If David admitted that he was gay, what would that mean for his understanding of his own masculinity?
  3. Why does David seem to fear and be opposed to male candor? How does male candor differ from male love?

Chew on This

David hopes to marry Hella because he believes that would confirm his masculinity; to David, being a man involves loving and desiring women.