Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on James Baldwin's Giovanni’s Room. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
Giovanni’s Room: Introduction
Giovanni’s Room: Plot Summary
Giovanni’s Room: Detailed Summary & Analysis
Giovanni’s Room: Themes
Giovanni’s Room: Quotes
Giovanni’s Room: Characters
Giovanni’s Room: Symbols
Giovanni’s Room: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of James Baldwin
Historical Context of Giovanni’s Room
Other Books Related to Giovanni’s Room
- Full Title: Giovanni’s Room
- When Published: 1956
- Literary Period: Modernism
- Genre: Novel
- Setting: 1950s Paris
- Climax: After sleeping with Guillaume in order to get his job back, Giovanni learns that the older man has no intention of hiring him. Furious, Giovanni strangles him to death with the belt of his dressing gown.
- Antagonist: Guillaume
Extra Credit for Giovanni’s Room
Rocky Relationships. Baldwin didn’t believe it was necessary to assign labels to sexual orientation, but he was a strong LGBT advocate long before such advocacy was socially accepted. Although he wasn’t fully out of the closet himself, he didn’t hide the fact that he’d had romantic relationships with men, and he was one of only two well-known and open non-heterosexual men in the Civil Rights Movement. This put a strain on his relationship with Martin Luther King Jr., who harbored certain homophobic beliefs.
Burn Notice. When Baldwin presented his publishers at Knopf with Giovanni’s Room, they refused to publish it because of its exploration of bisexuality and homosexuality. Like his publishers, his agent wanted him to continue writing about racism, even telling him to burn the manuscript. In response, Baldwin fired his agent and took Giovanni’s Room to Dial Press, which published it without hesitation.