James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room explores the internal struggle of a homosexual in denial. The main character, David, faces an internal conflict that eventually destroys every relationship he encounters in his personal life. His own struggle with his sexuality began at an early age and is directly linked to his relationship with his parents. David's failure to come to terms with his homosexuality is the mixed result of poor parenting that left him unable to reach emotional adulthood and his own insecurities with what he deems to be social deviance.
[...] For Baldwin, "sexuality was a mobile, permeable terrain that could not be contained within fixed boundaries of a stable identity. Especially in his fiction, identity, desire, and practice do not always line up neatly and may even shift over time."(Corber 168). David represents the uncertainty of an underdeveloped emotional state. This lack of emotional growth has left David with an uncertainty about his sexuality. Even though everyone around David understands him to be a homosexual, David's lack of emotional maturity leaves him unable to come to terms with the truth. [...]
[...] Much of his struggle with his homosexuality comes from his desire to keep his masculinity which he feels gay men are unable to do. David's sense of normality is so deeply rooted in heterosexuality that he is sometimes offended by his own sexuality. He wavers between embracing his sexual nature and completely denying it. James Baldwin uses David to present two different view points of homosexuality. When his relationship with Giovanni is going well and David accepts who he is, "Baldwin depicts homoerotic love as the natural and wholesome interaction of innocent characters whose love transcends the degeneracy of the gay Parisian underground and is capable of healing and reformation"(DeGout 426). [...]
[...] His trip is a part of the expatriate movement of escapism, this is because "In Europe, David seeks to preserve, or perhaps more accurately, to recover the innocence that covers over the 'secret' of his homosexual desire (Henderson 318). David believes that he must regain the innocence that he lost during his encounter with Joey. With his search to reclaim this innocence, he is trying to escape the truth that he discovered about himself in America. After living in Paris for a time and developing a relationship with a woman, David eventually becomes involved with another man. [...]
[...] Giovanni is the liberated version of David's internal struggle to accept his sexuality. David is also unable to be happy with Hella, because she represents his personal failures. His inability to love and want Hella is a constant reminder of his true sexual nature. David is so consumed by his denial that he can't be with a man or a woman and be happy. David will never be happy with another person until he is able to accept himself for what he is. [...]
[...] His feelings of anxiety over his sexual orientation began with a fear of disappointing his father. After his encounter with Joey, David says, thought of my father, who had no one in the world but which was accompanied by his “shame and terror” (Baldwin 9). David's youthful sexuality parallels his father's own promiscuity. In many ways, David is projecting the shame of his father's sexuality onto his own sexual encounters. David tells the reader, could scarcely ever face a woman without wondering whether or not my father had, in Ellen's phrase, been ‘interfering' with (Baldwin 15). [...]
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