California State University Sacramento Between the World and Me Book Essay

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California State University Sacramento


In a 3 to 4 page MLA style essay, respond to one of these questions regarding Between the World and Me. Use references (quotes, paraphrases, summary) from the book to develop your thesis statement.

1. Between the World and Me has been called a book about race, but the author argues that race itself is a flawed, if not useless, concept—it is, if anything, nothing more than a pretext for racism. Early in the book he writes, “Race, is the child of racism, not the father.” The idea of race has been so important in the history of America and in the self-identification of its people—and racial designations have literally marked the difference between life and death in some instances. How does discrediting the idea of race as an immutable, unchangeable fact change the way we look at our history? Ourselves?

2. Fear is palpably described in the book’s opening section and shapes much of Coates’s sense of himself and the world. “When I was your age,” Coates writes to his son, “the only people I knew were black, and all of them were powerfully, adamantly, dangerously afraid.” How did this fear inform and distort Coates’s life and way of looking at the world? Is this kind of fear inevitable? Can you relate to his experience? Why or why not?

3. The book—in the tradition of classic texts like Ranier Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet to James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time—is written in the form of a letter. Why do you think Coates chose this literary device? Did the intimacy of an address from a father to his son make you feel closer to the material or kept at a distance?

4. One can read Between the World and Me in many different ways. It may be seen as an exploration of the African American experience, the black American male experience, the experience of growing up in urban America; it can be read as a book about raising a child or being one. Which way of reading resonates most with you?

5. Coates repeatedly invokes the sanctity of the black “body” and describes the effects of racism in vivid, physical terms. He writes: “And so enslavement must be casual wrath and random manglings, the gashing of heads and brains blown out over the river as the body seeks to escape…There is no uplifting way to say this. I have no praise anthems, nor old Negro spirituals. The spirit and soul are the body and brain, which are destructive—that is precisely why they are so precious. And the soul did not escape. The spirit did not steal away on gospel wings.” Coates’s atheistic assertion that the soul and mind are not separate from the physical body is in conflict with the religious faith that has been so crucial to many African Americans. How does this belief affect his outlook on racial progress?

6. Coates is adamant that he is a writer, not an activist, but critics have argued that, given his expansive following and prominent position, he should be offering more solutions and trying harder to affect real change in American race relations. Do you think he holds any sort of responsibility to do so? Why or why not?

7. Some critics have argued that Between the World and Me lacks adequate representation of black women’s experiences. In her otherwise positive Los Angeles Times review, Rebecca Carroll writes: “What is less fine is the near-complete absence of black women throughout the book.” Do you think that the experience of women is erased in this book? Do you think Coates had an obligation to include more stories of black women in the text?

8. While much of the book concerns fear and the haunting effects of violence, it also has moments where Coates explores moments of joy and his blossoming understanding of the meaning of love. What notions of hard-won joy and love does the book explore? How do these episodes function in counterpoint to the book’s darker passages?

9. Do you think Between the World and Me leaves us with hope for race relations in America? Why or why not? Do you think “hope” was what Coates was trying to convey to readers? If not, what are you left with at the end of the book? If so, hope in what?

10. In class, we discussed "the talk" and how it manifests differently for women and men. How does Coates' "talk" to his son relate your own experiences? And how does gender play a role in these types of discussions

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Explanation & Answer

Hei there,I just finished your requested work. I selected to approach the topic in question 4 as I believe that this novel is more than a presentation of the American experiences but actually a lesson of where the modern American is heading. The author focuses on comparing the white and the black society ( i mentioned all of these and also included direct quotations as you requested). All of this creates a clear division between the two groups. Even though race acceptance has become a point of interest in the country, this delimitation is still very evident. As you will see in the outline, I clearly depicted what is discussed in each paragraph. We know that all the immigrants fight to get to the U.S in order to live the American Dream. Due to that, I decided to include this element in my essay as I found it a good term of comparison: how the American dream is imagined by the others and how it really is. In order to point out the reality, I focused on the novel and the way the author compares the black citizens with the white ones. This further confirms that the novel is more than a depiction of the black African American population or the white ones. It is actually a book which aims to educate its reader and to open their eyes in regard to what the real problem is. I hope the paper provided meets your needs. It is always a pleasure to offer my support

1.) Focus of the essay: Understanding race related issues as well as the experiences of the
struggle of the African Americans
2.) Thesis: The truth concerning the American dream as presented by Coates and the way it
is influenced by the black American experience.
Paragraph 1
Summary 1: The future that awaits the black Americans basing on their American history.
Supporting Evidence: Coates uses his experience as a young adolescent and a young adult to
explain this dream.
Summary 2: The history of the blacks should be discussed in the media through their struggles
and experiences.
Supporting evidence: The vision of the white American dream is implicated
Paragraph 2
Summary 1: The truth of the white Americans dreams, compared to the blacks. The American
dream is unachievable to the blacks.
Summary 2: African Americans have consistently been used to achieve the American dream,
making it impossible for them to achieve the same.
Paragraph 3
Summary1: Coates’s condemnation of the Americ...

Excellent! Definitely coming back for more study materials.


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