The Man Child

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

"The Man Child" is a 1965 short story by James Baldwin, taken from the short story collection, Going to Meet the Man.

Plot introduction[edit]

In a rural setting, young Eric lives on a large farm with his parents, who are friends with Jamie, a farmer who has lost his farm to Eric's father. Eric's parents are celebrating with Jamie his birthday.

Plot summary[edit]

It is Jamie's thirty-fourth birthday and he is at Eric's parents' place to celebrate. Eric's father upbraids him for being alone, with no wife or children, only a dog and his mother. Then Eric and his father go for a walk, during which Eric learns that all the land around him is his, thanks to his father's self-discipline and the passing down of land from generation to generation. Jamie, on the other hand, has lost his land, the land of Eric's father has grown even larger because he bought Jamie's. Back at the house, Jamie blows out the candles.

Later, after Eric's mother had a miscarriage Eric goes to wash his hands at the outdoor pump and runs into Jamie. The latter takes him into a barn and strangles him, while his mother in the kitchen. Jamie walks away with his dog.


  • Eric - eight years old, blonde.
  • Father - He is thirty-two years old.
  • Mother - pregnant
  • Sophie - Eric's would-be little sister, buried in the church courtyard
  • Jamie - a neighbor who goes to a local bar, The Rafters, with Eric's father every night. His wife left him and Eric's father bought his failing farm. He is thirty-four years old.

Main themes[edit]

  • father-son relationships
  • generational transference of property
  • white masculinity
  • white paternity
  • frontier mentality
  • jealousy
  • loneliness