In North Africans. At one point, “Boona


In James Baldwin’s “This Morning, This
Evening, So Soon”, the narrator faces a conflict regarding racial identity. The
narrator credits Paris with saving his life and giving him various
opportunities that he would not be given in the United States due to racial
oppression stating, “… I love Paris, I will always love it, it is the city
which saved my life. It saved my life by allowing me to find out who I am”
(Baldwin, 157). The narrator is able to embrace his own identity in Paris. However,
because of his prestige as an American artist, his racial identity is very
different from that of the North Africans in Paris who view the narrator as a
privileged American who, “refused to be identified with the misery of his
people” (Baldwin, 157).

Even though he “once thought of the North
Africans as his brothers” (Baldwin, 156), because of the opportunities and
success he has experienced while in Paris, the narrator refuses to join the
North Africans in hating the French stating, “but I could not hate the French
because they left me alone” (Baldwin, 157). The narrator loves Paris and the French
because they don’t judge him on his skin color, but he loathes their colonial war. As a result of this,
the narrator is separated from the community in France to which he should
belong to according to the false   American idea of black and white racial

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The idea of racial identity is further
challenged when it is alleged that Boona, a North African, has stolen money
from one of the female African American students. The events of the night that
unfold further symbolize the privilege of African Americans in Paris in
contrast to the North Africans. At one point, “Boona and Talley step out into
the street, and it is clear that Talley feels that he has Boona under arrest”
(Baldwin, 189), exemplifying that Talley knows he has the clear advantage over
Boona. Boona later asks the narrator, “why she
blame me? Because I come from Africa?” (Baldwin,190), highlighting the
complicated relationship of racial identity.

Throughout the story it is apparent that the
narrator may never be able to truly escape his American identity, and that in a
way it serves him a privilege. The identity the narrator wishes to escape and
rid himself of, ironically proves to help him.