Essay : Stranger in the village

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Essay : Stranger in the village

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Essay : Stranger in the village
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Explain the choice of title for this essay, Stranger in the village
            “I remain as much a stranger today as I was the first day I arrived.” James Baldwin. In Baldwin’s essay Stranger in the village, the African American anonymous narrator tells the reader about the situation he experienced in a tiny Swiss village. He also discusses the aftermath of our past History on our current behaviors and attitudes towards black people. However, the title of this essay owns several meanings and interpretations. The most oblivious meaning is probably the emotions felt by the narrator through his experience, however, the narrator also considers ideas such as differences between white and black people, the inhabitants’ lack of culture and finally he also compares the village to the USA, his country.
            Throughout the essay, the narrator expresses his feeling about his experience in the village, the inhabitants and their behaviors towards him.  As soon as Baldwin’s character arrived in the village, people were shocked by seeing a black man for the first time as the narrator which racist comments left him without any real reaction. The villagers thought that his hair was the color of tar and that it had the texture of wire, or cotton. Villagers were touching his hair when he was sitting outside for five minutes or were making jokes about it, saying that he could let it grow and make himself a winter coat. The narrator knows they did not mean to be unkind, however, their actions and reactions could have been sometimes disrespectful. Furthermore, the inhabitants’ of this tiny village have opposed reaction towards the narrator. Some of them seem to be friendly to him, for example the bistro owner’s wife has conversed with him, some people exchange a few saluts and bonsoirs in the street and some of the older women always greet him when they pass next to him. However, a part of the villagers do not pass through its apriorism : the narrator is considered as a thief who steal wood and called “le sale nègre”. Finally, children are acting like their parents, some are agreeable and friendly and others are mean and afraid as their parents tell us that “the devil is a black man”. With all these feelings, the narrator clearly expresses his feeling of being an outsider, even if few people are courteous, he still can feel that he is not welcomed in this village where people are racist and narrow-minded.
 
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Essay : Stranger in the village

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