How a Motif of Shame Affixed Generations of People. By Madison Griffin

Madison Griffin, Staff Writer

“Giovanni’s Room.” A narrative which explores the crevices of stark humiliation with ones self as it pertains to same sex relations is a topic which greatly spoke for the time in which the novel had been published. However, through  Baldwin’s unsheathed expression of shame he also managed to tether people of his time to those of our current generation. 

Upon the reader’s journey into this novel we encounter the main character, David, reminiscent of his time with Giovanni as he narrates the sobering weather that’s begun to advance upon France. He then leads us through the events of his childhood, which both defined him and led him to Europe; for it is there that the story unfolds. All in all it is through the contenders impeding encounters with the antagonist that his well structured persona is shattered leaving him utterly exposed and thus also ashamed. 

The conscience stricken character we come upon as David in this story serves as a shared role for many of the individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Though our modern society has grown to be more accepting of people’s differences than those who were alive upon the books conceiving, many people still often encounter violence and backlash for expressing who they are which often leads to the ingrown hatred they suffer. 

I’ve come to realize that shame comes in a variety pack. And, though we all experience it in mismatched ways, it is something of relevance to all of us especially in this community. As we are prone to being thought of  as inferior or groqueste it is only normal that we assemble unto an umbrella of shame; and Giovanni’s room is a great exhibitor of this emotion. It doesn’t have to be this way. 

With that being said I challenge you to read Giovanni’s Room, if you identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community I guarantee that at some point you’ll find fragments of yourself in the characters and if you’re not all I ask is that you read this with an open mind. 

You can also check out Spectrum and the other THS clubs to help find your place in the community.