By Leonard Harris
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Additional resources for Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher
The parents had agreed that, if their first child were a male, they would have only one. All this contributed to his being “idolized” by both parents. Indeed, “early childhood life was unusually close with my father, who changed his position from day to night shift in the post-office to be able to take care of me”: This included bathing and all intimate care since father was distrustful of the old-fashioned ways of both grandmothers. He became my constant companion and playmate, though forced to resume daytime work when I was four.
This obviously glanced at his sexual orientation as well as his devotion to high European culture and personal fastidiousness. His father’s death in 1892 threw Locke, who was then not quite six years old, “into the closest companionship” with Mary Locke. ” The security offered by the mother, along with the atmosphere in the house, added up to an unshakable sense of self-possession: I was a self-centered, rather selfish and extremely poised child, mature enough even before my father’s death to be indifferent to others and what they did or thought.
ALPHU 164-143/5) Again the theme of open and closed appears, and the notion of pollution is replaced with that of warfare, as the family barricades separate the world of utter honesty and the world of social appearance, where a certain amount of deception is not only tolerated but necessary—as if the family wash could make its appearance all by itself. The sense of socialization as a process grounded in control and denial is not especially original, obviously, nor is it striking to suggest that a sense of recompense or sublimation helps to make such a process more palatable.
Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris