Between the World and Me is a nonfiction epistolary (taking the form of a letter) memoir.


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

Point of View

The narrator, Ta-Nehisi Coates, 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. He shares his complete thoughts, showing only the actions and observable qualities of other people he writes about.


The tone of Between the World and Me is direct and analytical.


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


The book recounts events from Coates’s childhood (1975) onward to 2015 and takes place West Baltimore, Howard University in Washington, D.C., and New York City.


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

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 & Falling Action

The book does not follow a plot line with rising action that leads to a traditional 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.


While the book does not follow a plot line with rising action that leads to a traditional climax, Prince Jones’s death may be construed as constituting its climax.