Essays in the book focus on the racial tensions that shaped America in the middle of the 20th Century. The first essay is addressed to Baldwin’s nephew. He gives a description of the world this boy has to deal with being a black boy. At that time, the blacks were facing racial discrimination, even though the concept of racial abuses was changing. The next essay discusses Baldwin’s changing thoughts regarding religion and raft of other issues addressed to society. Baldwin wrote the book at a time when his views on race were changing.
There are different messages in the first piece. Baldwin begins by describing “integration” as a word that is misinterpreted by people. To whites, it is a fight for blacks to be accepted. On the other hand, blacks believed that they were the victims of racial abuse. He insists blacks should learn to live with the whites and not the reverse. This is the best way to co-exist in society, according to James Baldwin.
The second part of this book is directed to the general populace. Baldwin enlightens people on political issues, historical matters, and the general state of society. In the course of the writing, the essay gives a revelation of what led to Baldwin rejecting Christianity, narrates the meeting he had with Mohammed, the leader of Islam. Moreover, he gives a prediction of an eruption of violence because of the atrocities one religion does against the other.
In Baldwin’s prediction, the country is likely to face violence emanating from both sides of the racial divide. The prediction becomes true later because the activities undertaken by the Civil Right movements became violent. The essay gives the warnings as well as the alternatives that can be pursued.