Bulldog Giovanni's Room Analysis

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The Bulldog in Your Backyard:
Identity and Setting in James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room
In William J. Spurlin’s chapter in James Baldwin Now the evolution in critical approaches and reception of James Baldwin’s works are thoroughly explored1. This broad range of literary and social discourse proves that Baldwin’s works are approachable from very different standpoints, and that his works are often used to substantiate these viewpoints or usurp Baldwin’s work as representative of their own views (103-21). My aim for this short paper is to do a close-reading of Baldwin’s second novel Giovanni’s Room, in which I will not include any broader literary theories or social discourses but rather concentrate on the text itself. I will explore how the main …show more content…

This metaphor of a bulldog and a backyard that change dimensions represents his struggle with his sexual as well as his national identity. Throughout the novel, he continues to deny his bi- or homosexual desires to his friends, and most importantly to himself. The “spectacle” he is going to present to himself is that of his experience with Joey; the “bulldog” that he has ran away from and whom he tried to forget about. But now, after moving to Paris, this bulldog has grown “bigger”, representing the denial of his more mature love for Giovanni. Like the bulldog, he considers his love for another man …show more content…

“[He] wanted to beg [Giovanni] to forgive [him]. But this would have been too great a confession; any yielding at that moment would have locked [David] forever in that room with [Giovanni]. And in a way this was exactly what [David] wanted” (Baldwin 128). He wants Giovanni’s love, but he knows he will never be able to accept it completely. After leaving the room, the broader setting, Paris, also starts to change: “The stone of the city, which had been luminous and changing, faded slowly, but with no hesitation, into simple grey stone again” (130). These changes in setting contribute to David’s inner conflict. He leaves Giovanni to no avail in an attempt to resolve this crisis of identity and in the process he has damaged Giovanni permanently, and even

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