Analysis of James Baldwin

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Along with creating a vivid portrait of life in Harlem, James Baldwin's "The Rockpile  depicts the subtle hatred that can be directed towards stepchildren. Although the focus of the story is not on anger, for Baldwin's character John, acting as the family's scapegoat is part of everyday life. Not only does John seem to take the blame for his brother's actions, he also acts as the focal point of Gabriel's hatred for Elizabeth's earlier life.

Although this hatred is never directly stated or implied until the end of the story, the early paragraphs hint at the position that John fulfills in the family. When we first learn of the rockpile, the two boy's feelings are so completely different that it is clear that there is more to it than meets the eye. As Roy looks at the rockpile he feels that it is his " ¦right, not to say his duty, to play there,  even though the pile is forbidden by the parents. To me this seems like a common childhood tendency, to be attracted to the forbidden. John on the other hand, doesn't say anything about the pile; "he was afraid

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