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Transcript of Giovanni's Room
2. Sexual orientation and gender are centralized subjects in Baldwin's text, is race on the margins? If so, how?
3. What are the parallels between race and homosexuality that Baldwin attempts to make with the character David? (Hint: How is Giovanni described?)
4. What are the parallels between African-Americans (Giovanni) and Whites that Baldwin attempts to make with the character David?
5. Can we read Giovanni's room as a critique of whiteness?
6. What is the significance of the title Giovanni's Room?
Sexuality "By mutually constitute I mean that one category of identity, such as gender, takes its meaning as a category in relation to another category. By reinforce I mean that the formation and maintenance of identity categories is a dynamic process in which the individual herself or himself is actively engaged" (p. 302). On the margin--so to speak-- we are looking at Baldwin through his characters: How does David's relationship with father shape his ideas about masculinity? Is the influence of his father for good or for ill?
What role does sexual desire play in notions of masculinity? If David admitted that he was gay, what would that mean for his understanding of his own masculinity?
Why does David seem to fear and be opposed to male candor? How does male candor differ from male love?
When does David seem at peace with his sexuality? When does he seem ashamed of it? When he is ashamed, why is he ashamed and how does this shame express itself?
How does David's father express his sexuality? What effects might this have on David's way of thinking about his own sexuality?
Consider the communities that David is a part of in Paris. How are these communities shaped by certain ideas about sexuality and sexual desire?
How are Hella's ideas about femininity shaped by David's own confused sexual identity? Giovanni's Room and Race Magdalena Zaborowska http://www.lsa.umich.edu/ac/people/americanculturefaculty/ci.zaborowskamagdalena_ci.detail Critics Marlon B. Ross may lead one further to the conclusion that Baldwin’s characters have no true identity or even substance for that matter. He says, “lovers, Giovanni and David are “specific instance of individuals with representativee (white?) problems that need human (white?) solutions.
Their race signifies nothing beyond itself.”
In doing this, Baldwin divorced himself from both his identity and reality. Scholars like Ross ponder how it was possible that, “Baldwin could succeed with such a novel that necessarily provokes a crisis of identity and authority for the author and for his readers in a race-coded
Robert Bone( 1965) wrote: "Giovanni's Room by far is the weakest of Baldwin's Novels...The characters are vague and disembodied, the themes half-digested, the colors bleached rather than vivified."
Mae G. Henderson(2007) states the characters are masquerading in racial drag.