In the story ‘Stranger in the Village’, James Baldwin appears to be a person in the process of reasoning out to convince himself not merely his readers, that what happened and is what happening to his people are all encumbered with a reason.
It did not just happen because American’s were cruel and unkind. There was a process, a plan. Each paragraph of his story seems to me like those ideas were thought of in every different circumstance, written down each time to remember every thought. His strong emotions can easily be felt on the way he has written this piece.
I could feel the sadness in his words when he said, “For the history of the American Negro is unique also in this: that the question of his humanity, and of his rights therefore as a human being…it is out of this argument that the venom of the epithet: Nigger! is derived.In addition, “…into a market place and seeing black men for the first time…by the promptness with which they decided that these black men were not really men but cattle.” The cruelty his people had to endure on the past generations and up until now. It seems like the writer is also showing his anguish towards the reality of the status his people is upon.
Baldwin might have been pertaining to a third person, but it is evident to me that these in fact are really his emotions, “There is I should hazard, an instantaneous necessity to be divorced from this so visibly unsaved stranger, in whose heart, moreover, one cannot guess what dreams of vengeance are being nourished…When, beneath the black mask, a human being begins to make himself felt one cannot escape a certain awful wonder as to what kind of human being it is.”It is also evident when Baldwin said, “The rage of the disesteemed is personally fruitless, but it is also absolutely inevitable: the rage, so naturally discounted, so little understood even among the people whose daily bread it is, is one of the things that makes history.” And yet he tries his best to convince himself that everything will be alright, this time around everything will be fine. The writer still convinces himself that no person is naturally cruel, that there were reasons why his people have been slaves to the Americans.
This was evident when he said, “ Americans have made themselves notorious by the shrillness and the brutality with which they have insisted on this idea, but they did not invent it… the idea of white supremacy rests simply on the fact that white men are the creators of civilization… and are therefore civilization’s guardians and defenders. Thus, it was impossible for Americans to accept the black man as one of themselves, for to do so was to jeopardize their status as white man.” Moreover, “… one of the things that distinguishes Americans from other people is that no other people has ever been so deeply involved in the lives of black men, and vice versa… it can be seen that the history of American Negro problem is not merely shameful, it is also something of an achievement.” The writer may not admit it but he seems to have built a wall between the villagers and himself. He was right indeed when he said that some of the circumstances changed the second time he arrived but his feelings were the same; he was and still is a ‘stranger in the village’.