Notes of a Native Son

David Baldwin Sr. (Baldwin’s Father) Character Analysis

Baldwin’s father, who is never named in the book, is a preacher. Born in New Orleans, he is unsure of his birth date but knows that his mother was alive during slavery. He is a difficult man, consumed by bitterness, anger, and resentment of white people. He has nine children but does not have a particularly close relationship to them. Toward the end of his life, David’s family discovers that he suffers from paranoid delusions, and he is committed to a mental hospital. Convinced that people are trying to poison him, he refuses to eat and dies.
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David Baldwin Sr. (Baldwin’s Father) Character Timeline in Notes of a Native Son

The timeline below shows where the character David Baldwin Sr. (Baldwin’s Father) appears in Notes of a Native Son. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Notes of a Native Son
Inheritance, Tradition, and Belonging Theme Icon
Intimacy vs. Hatred Theme Icon
Baldwin’s father died in 1943, a few hours before his last child was born. After his father’s... (full context)
Inheritance, Tradition, and Belonging Theme Icon
Prejudice, Dishonesty, and Delusion Theme Icon
Intimacy vs. Hatred Theme Icon
Baldwin was frightened by his father’s bitterness and frightened of inheriting it. When his father died, Baldwin had newly discovered the... (full context)
Inheritance, Tradition, and Belonging Theme Icon
Prejudice, Dishonesty, and Delusion Theme Icon
Intimacy vs. Hatred Theme Icon
Baldwin’s father had nine children, and the family lived in terrible poverty. When white welfare workers and... (full context)
Inheritance, Tradition, and Belonging Theme Icon
Progress vs. Stagnation Theme Icon
Prejudice, Dishonesty, and Delusion Theme Icon
Intimacy vs. Hatred Theme Icon
The year before his father’s death, Baldwin had been living in New Jersey, where he had been living among both... (full context)
Progress vs. Stagnation Theme Icon
Intimacy vs. Hatred Theme Icon
Baldwin rushed home, not wanting to miss the birth of his sibling or his father’s death. He felt that all of Harlem was “infected by waiting.” During this time, the... (full context)
Inheritance, Tradition, and Belonging Theme Icon
Prejudice, Dishonesty, and Delusion Theme Icon
Intimacy vs. Hatred Theme Icon
Baldwin visited his father only once during his illness. He had avoided seeing his father because he wanted to... (full context)
Inheritance, Tradition, and Belonging Theme Icon
Language, Narrative, and Truth Theme Icon
Intimacy vs. Hatred Theme Icon
...a black shirt. At the church, Baldwin reflected that his aunt, who fought with his father throughout his life, was one of the only people who had a real connection with... (full context)
Inheritance, Tradition, and Belonging Theme Icon
Language, Narrative, and Truth Theme Icon
Progress vs. Stagnation Theme Icon
Prejudice, Dishonesty, and Delusion Theme Icon
Intimacy vs. Hatred Theme Icon
Baldwin’s father used to preach: “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”... (full context)