Masculinity In Giovanni's Room

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In the novel, “Giovanni’s Room”, Baldwin uses the character to show not only how masculinity is viewed in the eyes of the world, but also amongst the said characters. The novel tells the story of an American man, David, and his relationship with the Italian Giovanni and the ways this relationship both frees him from the unrealistic and unnatural relationship with his fianceé Hella, but also forces him to question his personal ideas of masculinity, his own and in the perspective of the world, and position in the relationship. In the beginning of the relationship, David acknowledges that there are limitations with their relationship but accepts it. However as the relationship progresses, David feels his masculinity being smothered by Giovanni. The men share a room David believes is extremely small and uncomfortable. The symbol of the room is particularly interesting when analyzed. This room becomes an oppressive symbol as it is something he feels that he must escape if he is to regain his ideal masculine identity. In the novel there are connections between David’s obsession with “ideal” masculinity and the manner in which homosexuality threatens it. This is prevalent when Jacques, a friend of David and…show more content…
It is interesting to note that there is a link between masculinity and the man in society, but between the two characters there is one who feels emasculated. And again, the image of the room is a motif of the anxiety David feels because he is increasingly feminized and emasculated within it. In fact David says how he felt almost compelled to fulfill the role of a wife with the lines, “I invented in myself a kind of pleasure in playing the housewife after Giovanni had gone to work.” Baldwin also juxtaposes this idyllic image of domesticity with David’s underlying masculine uncertainty, “But I am not a housewife – men can never be

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