If Beale Street Could Talk Symbolism

Apr 17, 2015
by: avuong

Written by Amy Vuong and Arnoldo Macias

James Baldwin uses a great deal of symbolism in his novel If Beale Street Could Talk, to provide us with a better understanding of the story. Tish the protagonist mentions how she is crossing the Sahara when she steps into prison. She says the vultures are the lawyers and bondsmen that circle around the flesh who has fallen and can not rise, the poor. The Sahara is symbolizing oppression. This is essential because throughout the story, the characters’ conflicts take place because they’re being oppressed. Fonny was in prison because he was accused of rape. This was deemed from a police line up with him being the only African American in it. The charge was unfair. It is important for us to understand they’re being discriminated by a force with more power and authority. It is the same force that they’re constantly battling against as the plot progresses. The Sahara represents the pain, suffering, and loss the characters go through due to the unjust treatment. It helps us grasp Baldwin’s idea of cruelty in the world that occur due to power that holds people down.

What deserts influence your life? How does oppression affect you?


Hello Amy. Your response on

Submitted by hxu on Fri, 2015-04-17 12:01.

Hello Amy. Your response on Beale Street could talk is very specific and significant because you gave lots of details about the Sahara and the connection between this symbol and the book.

Hello Amy, I really like the

Submitted by jdang on Fri, 2015-04-24 11:56.

Hello Amy,
I really like the way you specified on the way Tish felt when she walked into the jail and how she viewed the others around her.