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Abstract

This research examines and expands on the critical outlook concerning the scope and function of identity in the literature of James Baldwin. Looking at Another Country specifically, the essay expounds on the universality of oppressive conditions shown to operate across factors of race, gender, and sexuality. Critical discussion has largely focused on Baldwin’s construction of male identities and sexual experiences; this essay argues for the importance of the novel’s female psychological depictions and how these character profiles operate in relation to male profiles. A significant universal aspect considered is the visibility of trauma: how its appearance communicates repressed pain and influences an observer’s sense of social consciousness and individual introspective capabilities. Furthermore, the trauma and associated psychological conditions are explicitly tied to the characters’ races, genders, and sexualities; consequently, critical theory is used in the reading of key passages. Though historical elements of 1960s America will be mentioned in analysis, the scope of the essay will be focused on literary passages from the book and responding to previous scholarly criticism. Three primary themes of emphasis are violence as a prompter for social consciousness, intertwined oppressions, and the function of female characters in the novel.

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