Going to Meet the Man

Going to Meet the Man Literary Elements


Short Story Collection

Setting and Context

New York, France, the American South

Narrator and Point of View

The stories alternate between close-third perspectives (such as "Previous Condition") and first-person perspectives (such as "This Morning, This Evening, So Soon").

Tone and Mood

Many of the stories are written from a place of anger and frustration, occasionally including a dark, ironic bite of humor, like in "Previous Condition."

Protagonist and Antagonist

Baldwin's protagonists in "This Morning, This Evening, So Soon" are usually young, black men or women who are up against antagonistic social forces in America. The exceptions to this are "The Man Child" and "This Morning, This Evening, So Soon" which both track the perspective of white men.

Major Conflict

The major conflict in "The Rockpile" is that Johnnie let his brother Roy play with the other boys, and when Roy was hurt, their father Gabriel wants to blame Johnnie for letting Roy leave the house.

In "The Outing," the major conflict is that Johnnie is in love with David, who wants to be with Sylvia instead.

In "The Man Child," the major conflict is that Jamie is in love with Eric's father, but Eric's father prioritizes his land and his legacy.

The major conflict in "Sonny's Blues" is that the narrator doesn't know how to help keep his brother clean while also being a supportive and loving force in his life.

In "Previous Condition," the major conflict is that Peter is unable to find housing because white landlords keep kicking him out.

In "This Morning, This Evening, So Soon," the major conflict is that the narrator is afraid to raise his son, Paul, in America due to the racism and prejudice that he'll face.

In "Come Out the Wilderness," the major conflict is that Ruth's obsessive love for her boyfriend Paul is at odds with her shame for being with him in an interracial relationship.

In "Going to Meet the Man," the major conflict is that Jesse, a police officer in a Southern town, is impotent both in his ability to continue to subjugate the black residents of his county, and sexually, with his wife.


The climax of the title story of the collection occurs near the end of the story when Jesse is finally able to sexually perform after conjuring a memory of extreme violence perpetrated against a black man that he witnessed as a child.


An example of foreshadowing occurs in "The Man Child," when Eric expresses his anxiety about growing old, having kids, and running his father's farm; his anxieties foreshadow the fact that he'll never actually be able to grow old, because Jamie kills him when he's only eight years old.



Baldwin makes both overt and implicit references to the Bible, primarily to Old Testament stories. For example, he ends "Sonny's Blues" with a reference to the "cup of trembling" from the book of Isaiah, and he compares the way Johnnie feels about his father, Gabriel, to the way Isaac must have felt about his father, Abraham, when he learned that Abraham was prepared to kill him.


The most frequent source of imagery for Baldwin is in describing the murderous and looming skyline of New York City.


Sonny's brother often describes Sonny in paradoxical terms, having two opposing qualities at once. For example, while Sonny is telling his brother about his addiction, he's described as "looking inward, looking helplessly young, looking old."


The way Boona is treated in "This Morning, This Evening, So Soon," and the way the narrator describes the treatment of North African people in France parallels the way black people are treated in America.

Metonymy and Synecdoche


Baldwin often personifies New York City as a vengeful, bloodthirsty animal. For example, in "This Morning, This Evening, So Soon," he describes Manhattan as "the great, unfinished city, with all its towers blazing in the sun. It came toward us slowly and patiently, like some enormous, cunning, and murderous beast, ready to devour, impossible to escape."