Giovanni’s Room


James Baldwin

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Giovanni’s Room can help.

Jacques’s Letter Symbol Analysis

Jacques’s Letter Symbol Icon

The envelope that contains the time and date of Giovanni’s execution symbolizes David’s inability to forget about his relationship with his former lover. When David moves to the South of France, Jacques sends him frequent letters about Giovanni’s legal proceedings, relaying news from Giovanni’s lawyer about what will happen to him once he’s found guilty of murdering Guillaume. Eventually, one of the envelopes Jacques sends contains a letter outlining the details of the imminent execution. Throughout the story, David uses travel to escape his emotions and mask his ongoing struggles to come to terms with his sexual orientation. The arrival of this letter suggests that, although David has finally followed through on his desire to move out of the small, cramped room he and Giovanni shared in Paris, he cannot rid himself of his lingering feelings for Giovanni. On the morning Giovanni is set to die, David leaves the house he has rented and walks out to the road with his bags. Stopping for a moment, he takes out the letter from Jacques, tears it up, and scatters it in the wind before turning his back and walking away. And though he does this in an attempt to put his past with Giovanni behind him, pieces of the letter get swept up in a breeze and gust back toward him, representing the fact that he’ll never be able to stop feeling guilty about what happened between him and Giovanni.

Get the entire Giovanni’s Room LitChart as a printable PDF.
Giovanni’s Room PDF

Jacques’s Letter Symbol Timeline in Giovanni’s Room

The timeline below shows where the symbol Jacques’s Letter appears in Giovanni’s Room. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2: Chapter 5
Sexual Orientation and Denial Theme Icon leave for Paris. Next to him on the table sits an envelope with a letter from Jacques—the letter that informed David that Giovanni will be executed this morning for Guillaume’s... (full context)
Sexual Orientation and Denial Theme Icon
...walks to the side of the road. Stopping for a moment, he takes out the letter Jacques sent him and tears it up, letting the small pieces of paper drift away... (full context)