January 20, 2021

Going to meet the man by James Baldwin

Going to meet the man is a story about Jesse who was a town sheriff and his wife Grace in bed. The two couple is white and they live in a small city in the southern direction. Jesse is willing to have sex with his wife but at the moment, he seems not to have energy that can enable him make love with his wife. While in bed during the night, Jesse’s mind is filled with so many thoughts. His thoughts are about the blacks and this shows that he is racist, James B, 227.

The story shows a bold act of understanding which is an important moral act that resonates beyond the reach of imaginative fiction. The story shows the effects of racism in the town where the narrator stays. First, we encounter Jesse who hates the whites and feels that the whites will be judged by God for their bad deeds, James B, 227. Through his thoughts at night, we realize that Jesse has directed his anger for the white people to his son. According to him, racists are not born but their behaviors and attitudes are acquired during their childhood. This shows the struggle towards the attainment of civil rights is impaired by racism among the people. An innocent child has the capability of being racist depending on the way the child is brought up.

When we encounter with Jesse’s friend Otis, we learn that this friend could not be let out one morning because he was African and his father was afraid that since he was African, he could do something wrong James B, 236. The moral lesson that Jesse learns from the friend’s father is that being African means doing something evil and this would end up making Jesse become racist at his old age. The friend’s father could not realize that he had put negative attitudes to Jesse’s mind through portraying Africans as people who can always do wrong.

Jesse’s father also implants bad moral lessons to the son when he preaches that the whites are bad and they will be punished by God. Jesse experiences a sleepless night when he remembers that they are going to have sex with his wife but his thoughts are indulged in having his father but he is afraid his father will not be happy with him James B, 227. Jesse’s father is excited about the coming violence and he informs his son that they are going to have a picnic. Jesse enquires from his father whether they are going to meet a terrible nigger and this shows how the father has influenced the son’s perception of the black people.

When they go for the lynching, a Negro is mutilated and Jesse asks the father what the black man has done James B, 241. This shows that to him, the black man is innocent and he does not understand why the man is lynched. Through the way the black people are treated by the old whites, racism is built because the young learn such moral lessons and start applying them to the blacks. The experience Jesse got during the lynching of the black man makes him sexually violent. While in bed, the thoughts about the lynching of the black man fills his mind and he cannot perform in bed with his wife Grace. He feels that he should do it violently with black women and this is because he learnt a bad lesson from the way his father treats the blacks. Jesse is not able to keep the thoughts in his mind that he enjoys having sex with black women but in his mind he refers to the blacks with demeaning names.

Jesse himself knows that he makes several racist remarks but he also feels that he is a good man because of the things he does to his people. He informs his wife that Big Jim C attempted to make a group of black men who were found singing James B, 239. This shows how racism has affected the thoughts of people in the area. Big Jim C still feels that he is doing the right thing and no one should question his actions because that is the way the blacks have been treated in the society. The racist thoughts that have greatly affected Jesse at long last make him inform his wife that he is going to have rough sex with her as if she were a black woman James B, 247.

Through Jesse, we learn that the bad lessons that he has learnt from his father about how blacks should be treated have adversely affected him. Thus we can say that the story is bold act of understanding that shows an important moral act in the fight for civic rights.


James B. Going to meet the man: stories. 1995. New York. Vintage publishers

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