Corey givens

Corey Givens 2-4-13 English 1010 Professor Murray Contextual Analysis My Dungeon Shook When you first look at this letter, the title does not seem to give much evidence as to how what the content is about or means. I could possibly be a letter from the 1500’s explaining someone’s time in prison or possibly a story of an inmate who was wrongly accused. However this letter is much different than that, and has a meaning that is much different. When we think of a dungeon or a prison we automatically think of some sort of chains or bondage but in this letter we see a dungeon that is more real in this time period than any other, segregation and racism. In the 1960’s the United States was in a state of great distress with all of the racism that was consuming it. It’s own citizens were being attacked, sprayed with powerful water hoses, and were even murdered for not what they represented as a member of society but just for the color of their skin. This letter exemplifies what many people in this time period had to go through every day of their life. “…For which neither I nor history will forgive them. ” This quote from the letter sums up how all of the African Americans at the time felt about the oppression they had to go through. However, the letter does have a different message than most would assume it would have. In this letter James Baldwin is telling his nephew that even through he has much resentment for what the people have done to him he should still never use force to try to attain his goal of equal rights. You know this is true by the fact that his uncle constantly reminds him to not be like those other people. “ There is no reason for you to try to become like the white people and there is no basis whatever for their impertinent assumption that they must accept you. The really terrible thing, old buddy, is that you must accept them. ” This quote from the letter gives you a direct look into the exact reason that the letter was written. It is a concerned uncle giving the best advice to a young nephew in a true time of uncertainty. Baldwin is explaining that the only way to get through this time is accepting white people for who they are even though they are not treated the same. The quote states that white people of the time had no reason to hate lack people and treat them the way they did but they did anyway and even though they didn’t want to, most African Americans had to treat white people with much more respect than they received. Lets imagine that one day you woke up and found yourself in the chains of a dungeon. You don’t know why you are in these chains, all you know is that the guards of the dungeon have a deep hatred for you and you don’t know where it comes from. Now imagine that the only way to escape this situation is to hope that one guard in power feels for you and your cause. This is exactly how African Americans of this time period felt on a daily basis. Just constantly waiting for someone in power to notice their struggles and free them from their chains. From what we can understand from this letter, Baldwin was feeling the exact same way. They were all in a position they did not chose to be in and did not want to be in but they were in it non the less, so they did whatever they could to try to be equal. This letter reminds his nephew but can also remind us that when we are in a bad situation we should never resort to violence but always take the high road and acclaim our goal peacefully. James Baldwin, the author of the letter, was a great novelist, playwright, social critic, and poet at the time. Some of his greatest works were centered around the idea of attaining equal rights for his people. Baldwin used these great writing skills that he had to try to leave a lasting impression on his nephew to hopefully convince him to think like he does about their situation and help bring a solution to it through peace and not violence. We see the same type of behavior also through the great activist Martin Luther king Jr. Both Baldwin and Martin Luther King Jr. wanted the same thing, equal rights through peaceful and non-violent protests. Baldwin saw no reason why violence would ever be needed to help a cause.