Critical Essay on Another Country: The Interwoven Lives of Eight in the Shadow of Rufus Scott

Paper Type:  Book review
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  967 Words
Date:  2023-01-12


The center of the book Another Country involves the interrelated lives of eight major characters. Rufus Scott, a black jazz musician, who is a victim of society and commits suicide early in the novel. His memory persists in the minds of his group of friends; his wife, Leona, his best friend Vilvaldo Moore, Richard Silenski and his wife Cass, his former lover Eric, and Ida his sister. Rufus death remains the center of consciousness for each of the characters, based on the fact that he haunts the memories and actions of all those who had known him.

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This review is about Ida whose story in the book is a recapitulation of Rufus' story as the novel illustrates how the suffering of Ida and Rufus is caused by racial discrimination and hatred. Ida just like her brother Rufus had anger against the white people. Rufus, however, suffers more intensely as he commits suicide eventually. Ida, Rufus, sister, is a vengeful nemesis of Another Country. Upon the death of her brother, she moves into the circle of his White friends and tries to make them assume responsibility for his death.

Ida story summarizes the life of Rufus' presence in that they both are blacks in the white world. Both are talented artists, Rufus was a jazz musician while Ida was an aspiring musician and both their lives revolve around a group of white people. They both had hatred against the whites. They also both fall in love with white people and gets into a relationship with them. The significant difference in both their lives was that Rufus succumbed to the white's cruel society and committed suicide while Ida, driven by Rufus' death as a motivation was determined to take vengeance on that society which drove Rufus to suicide. In addition to that, the love between Ida and Vilvaldo was sincere and it triumphed over destructive adversities unlike the one between Rufus and Leona, where although Leona loved Rufus, Rufus who is unable to recognize Leona's love as he could not surmount the indestructible barriers erected by centuries of racial inhumanity and thus could not accept Leona's love and reciprocate that love.

When Ida got involved with the people whom his brother had been close to once, her main aim was to avenge his death as she felt that his friends let him die. Her motivation to seek revenge is summed up near till nearly the end of the novel as she keeps on reminding them of their sins against the blacks. In my opinion, I do not feel like she avenges Rufus's death as she ends up falling in love with Vilvaldo and she realizes the sincerity of his love for her after having a brief affair with Steve Ellis, an exploitative television executive who promised to make her a singer if she agreed to a relationship with him. She is even ready to confess everything in order to be understood. I would rather say she recapitulates Rufus' experiences as discussed above.

According to McBride (2018), Ida tells us in her story that the whites do not care about what happens to the blacks and they are cowards who cannot own up to that. She blames Rufus's friends especially Cass and Vilvado for his death because she feels that his friends did not care about what happened to him. We can also see her ideology in the fact that she agreed to get into an affair with Ellis to advance her career, she knew that to get somewhere with her career she had to 'sell' herself as she remembered a white wouldn't help with her career without anything in return. Vilvado's story seems to contrast with hers in that, in the novel his character functions as Rufus's friend and as Ida's lover. The fact that he is a white man contrasts with Ida's ideology as he seems to genuinely care about Rufus as he particularly feels very guilty over his death and deeply regrets not meeting with his on their agreed upon meeting before his death. We also see his genuine love over a black person through his love for Ida as he attempts to love Ida with all his passion and he even tries to seek the reality of the blacks just to prove his love to her.


According to the novel, Rufus is continuously faced with racial tension, which becomes more evident to him when he gets into a relationship with a white girl, Leana. According to him, he is just a useless black man, and he does not understand why Leona is still with him. It gets to a point he can no longer walk down the street with her without believing that someone is judging them. He takes his frustrations on her and abuses her physically (Mishra, 2019). From this, I feel that Rufus wouldn't have understood how Ida was able to accept the love of a white man and reciprocate it as well. However, Ida's story of herself causes us to reevaluate the vision Rufus would have had of her, through her relationship with Vivaldo as the Author Baldwin, shows how a sincere and reciprocal love can always triumph. This can be seen from the fact that Ida was ready to confess everything as she realized that her association with Ellis threatened to alienate Vivaldo entirely. This was after she realized and saw how true his love for her was.


Conway, T. (2018). James Baldwin's Another Country as Representation of Queer Identity Formation in Accordance to Space.

McBride, D. A. (2018). Where "Nothing Is Fixed": James Baldwin and America's Exceptional Indefiniteness. Aspirational Exceptionalism: Rhetoric, Politics, and the Pursuit of American Greatness, 15(4), 163.

Mishra, A. K. (2019). Transcending the 'Immanent Frame': James Baldwin's Another Country and Inclusive Humanism. IJELLH (International Journal of English Language, Literature in Humanities), 7(3), 16-16.

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Critical Essay on Another Country: The Interwoven Lives of Eight in the Shadow of Rufus Scott. (2023, Jan 12). Retrieved from

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