Going to Meet the Man

by

James Baldwin

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Jesse’s Father Character Analysis

Jesse’s father, married to Jesse’s mother, raised Jesse to become a racist like him. In an extended flashback, he mocks Black peoples’ singing in front of Jesse and teaches him to mistrust his Black friend Otis. He ultimately takes Jesse to witness a brutal lynching, putting Jesse onto his shoulders so he can watch the entire event unobstructed. After watching the lynching victim be castrated and killed, Jesse feels deep love for his father and thinks that he “had revealed to [Jesse] a great secret which would be the key to his life forever.” In this way, Jesse’s father’s presence in the story shows how racism is passed on from one generation to the next.

Jesse’s Father Quotes in Going to Meet the Man

The Going to Meet the Man quotes below are all either spoken by Jesse’s Father or refer to Jesse’s Father. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Sexuality, Pleasure, and Racial Violence Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Going to Meet the Man published in 1995.
Going to Meet the Man Quotes

“Well, I told you,” said his father, “you wasn’t never going to forget this picnic.” His father’s face was full of sweat, his eyes were very peaceful. At that moment Jesse loved his father more than he had ever loved him. He felt that his father had carried him through a mighty test, had revealed to him a great secret which would be the key to his life forever.

Related Characters: Jesse’s Father (speaker), Jesse
Page Number: 248
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Going to Meet the Man LitChart as a printable PDF.
Going to Meet the Man PDF

Jesse’s Father Character Timeline in Going to Meet the Man

The timeline below shows where the character Jesse’s Father appears in Going to Meet the Man. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Going to Meet the Man
Learning Racism Theme Icon
...a flashback, it is nighttime, and Jesse is in a car between his mother and father, sleepy and excited. He hears the song coming over the fields. More lyrics come to... (full context)
Learning Racism Theme Icon
...hasn’t seen Otis for a couple mornings, though Jesse only cares about this morning. Jesse’s father suggests that Otis’s parents were afraid to let him show himself, which confuses Jesse, who... (full context)
Sexuality, Pleasure, and Racial Violence Theme Icon
Learning Racism Theme Icon
...weighs on him, and he wants to call to his mother but he knows his father wouldn’t approve. He hears his father make a joke and feels even more afraid since... (full context)
Sexuality, Pleasure, and Racial Violence Theme Icon
Learning Racism Theme Icon
In the morning, eight white people in a car approach the house with excitement. Jesse’s father runs to them and asks, “They got him, then?” Jesse recognizes some of the children.... (full context)
Sexuality, Pleasure, and Racial Violence Theme Icon
Learning Racism Theme Icon
...makes it feel to Jesse like a Fourth of July picnic. The visitors encourage Jesse’s father to hurry up and not to worry about food since they have enough for everyone.... (full context)
Learning Racism Theme Icon
Jesse gets in the car and sits close to his father, feeling he is about to go on a great journey. He asks if they are... (full context)
Sexuality, Pleasure, and Racial Violence Theme Icon
Learning Racism Theme Icon
...they are driving on gets steeper and the day feels colder. Jesse’s mother and Jesse’s father look straight ahead, seeming to listen to the singing. Suddenly, Jesse feels they are strangers... (full context)
Sexuality, Pleasure, and Racial Violence Theme Icon
Learning Racism Theme Icon
...though he assumes there is a fire, since he can smell smoke. After parking, Jesse’s father asks Jesse if he is all right. Jesse says yes. In the clearing, strangers greet... (full context)
Learning Racism Theme Icon
Jesse’s father picks Jesse up and puts him on his shoulders, which grants him a view of... (full context)
Sexuality, Pleasure, and Racial Violence Theme Icon
Learning Racism Theme Icon
...the man screams again, blood bubbles out of his mouth, and Jesse clings to his father out of fear, though the man’s scream is overtaken by the cheering of the crowd. (full context)
Sexuality, Pleasure, and Racial Violence Theme Icon
Learning Racism Theme Icon
...did the man do? What did he do?” but doesn’t feel he can ask his father. He is physically close to his father but experiences him as being very far away.... (full context)
Sexuality, Pleasure, and Racial Violence Theme Icon
Learning Racism Theme Icon
...most beautiful and terrible object he has ever seen. As he watches one of his father’s friends wield a knife, Jesse wishes that he were that man. The crowd laughs at... (full context)
Sexuality, Pleasure, and Racial Violence Theme Icon
Learning Racism Theme Icon
...tighten as he notices how large the lynching victim’s penis is, much larger than Jesse’s father’s, “the largest thing he had seen till then and the blackest.” Suddenly the lynching victim... (full context)
Learning Racism Theme Icon
...at his body with their hands, knives, and stones. Jesse’s head falls downward toward his father’s. Someone throws kerosene on the hanging body, and it is engulfed in flames. Jesse’s father... (full context)
Learning Racism Theme Icon
As Jesse’s mother laughs with the other women, Jesse’s father walks them toward the lynching victim’s dead body. The man’s head is torn apart and... (full context)