The Man Child

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"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]

Eric's parents are celebrating Jamie's birthday.

Plot summary[edit]

It is Jamie's thirty-fourth birthday and he is at Eric's parents' 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; Jamie, on the other hand, has lost his. Back at the house, Jamie blows the candles.

Later, after Eric's mother had a miscarriage with a baby the couple had imagined calling either Sophie or Jamie, Eric goes for a walk and runs into Jamie. The latter takes him into a barn and strangles him, whilst his mother is singing in the kitchen.


  • 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 neighbour who goes to a local bar, The Rafters, with Eric's father every night. His wife left him and Eric's father bought back his land. He is thirty-four years old.

Main themes[edit]

  • loneliness
  • father-son relationships
  • white masculinity
  • white paternity