Study Guide

Giovanni's Room Repression

By James Baldwin


On one level, what David is repressing is almost immediately apparent to the reader; he won't admit that he's gay. As one reads Giovanni's Room, it's remarkable how, when speaking about events, David can seem to be totally honest and direct. Yet when David speaks about David, he suddenly becomes evasive and short-spoken, a real master of self-deception. Over the course of the novel, we begin to wonder if David will ever be able to be honest with himself again.

Questions About Repression

  1. What is Giovanni repressing? How does this affect and shape his behavior in the book?
  2. When does David's repression begin? What is he repressing? Does it change throughout the novel?
  3. Does the fact that David is lying to himself make his lies to other people any more forgivable?
  4. After Guillaume is murdered, why do you think that the French government is so eager to find a culprit. What might they be hiding from themselves?

Chew on This

David acts superior to the people he is romantically involved with because he wants to hide the fact that he feels unworthy of their love and affection.

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