Going to Meet the Man

by

James Baldwin

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Jesse’s mother Character Analysis

Jesse’s mother attends the lynching with a young Jesse and Jesse’s father, dressing up for the occasion. She is not as important as Jesse’s father in teaching Jesse how to be overtly racist—in fact, she discourages her husband from mocking the singing of the Black people in town as they mourn the coming death of the lynching victim. Still, by dressing up for the lynching, watching it in awe, and casually laughing with her friends afterward, she represents a passive acceptance of the racist status quo.
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Jesse’s mother Character Timeline in Going to Meet the Man

The timeline below shows where the character Jesse’s mother 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
In 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... (full context)
Learning Racism Theme Icon
...he didn’t see Otis this morning, though he’s not sure why he says it. Jesse’s mother responds that he hasn’t seen Otis for a couple mornings, though Jesse only cares about... (full context)
Sexuality, Pleasure, and Racial Violence Theme Icon
Learning Racism Theme Icon
...unable to sleep. The darkness 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... (full context)
Learning Racism Theme Icon
...they are “going to see the bad nigger” who knocked down old Miss Standish. Jesse’s mother says they might see him. (full context)
Sexuality, Pleasure, and Racial Violence Theme Icon
Learning Racism Theme Icon
The hill 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... (full context)
Sexuality, Pleasure, and Racial Violence Theme Icon
Learning Racism Theme Icon
Jesse turns to look at his mother, whose face seems more beautiful than ever and also more strange. He feels a type... (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.... (full context)