Between the World and Me

Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title Between the World and Me

author   Ta-Nehisi Coates

type of work   Nonfiction text

genre Letter; memoir

language English

time and place written New York, 2015

date of first publication 2015

publisher Penguin Random House

narrator Ta-Nehisi Coates is the author and narrator, and he speaks from his own perspective throughout the text.

point of view The narrator speaks in first person subjective point of view. The book is, in part, a memoir written as a letter, so the author is the narrator, and he shares his complete thoughts and feelings. However, he only shows the actions and observable qualities of other people he writes about.

tone Direct, analytical

tense The portions that describe past events from Coates’ life are narrated in the past tense. The remainder of the text is in the present tense.

setting (time)  Variable, recounts events from childhood (1975) onward to 2015

setting (place) West Baltimore, Howard University in Washington, D.C., and New York City

protagonist Ta-Nehisi Coates

major conflict Coates struggles to understand how to live freely within his black body while residing in a country that enslaved his ancestors and continues to oppress black citizens.

rising action The book does not follow a plot line with rising action that leads to a climax and falling action after. It is a series of life events and the thoughts and musings within those time periods. The author announces at the beginning that there is no resolution to his major conflict.

climax The book does not follow a plot line with rising action that leads to a climax and falling action after. It is a series of life events and the thoughts and musings within those time periods. However, Prince Jones’ death may constitute the climax.

falling action The book does not follow a plot line with rising action that leads to a climax and falling action after. It is a series of life events and the thoughts and musings within those time periods. The author announces at the beginning that there is no resolution to his major conflict.

themes The Façade of the American Dream, The Destruction of the Black Body, The Value of the Struggle

motifs Violence, Dreamers, Fear

symbols The Yard; Paris

foreshadowing While speaking about his peers at Howard University, Coates foreshadows that Prince Jones will be killed at a young age.