James Baldwin’s Another Country has a number of central characters that experience confusion or anxiety when their identities, bodies and desires are intertwined. One could argue that Eric, a gay expatriate returning to New York to pursue an acting career, does not suffer from such crises. This is true even though he has an affair with married heterosexual Cass. Eric’s affair, however, does not confuse his sexuality.
Eric is introduced in France, where he lives with Yves, his partner of just under two years. Baldwin portrays Eric’s relationship with Yves, as one of mutual respect, affection, and love. Baldwin does not include the racial subtext, gendered or classed that appears in all other characters. Baldwin introduces Eric and Yves in the very first chapter. The couple is shown to be content together.
Yves was the one who had moved in with him, but it was more accurately and literally Yves. Yves had literally moved in to his home, but both had been searching for a place of their own.
This passage shows how the relationship between Eric and Yves is complete and happy because they have found a sense of home. The final sentence implies that the relationship and the happiness it brings are the result of a lengthy search for a partner that each could love. This implies that Eric’s internalised crisis of identity and desire was resolved when he began a relationship with Yves in France. In fact, when Eric decided to return to New York he “did not want to leave Yves behind” [Baldwin p. 158] Eric’s acceptance and happiness with his sexuality is a result of his relationship to Yves.
Eric’s acceptance, comfort and loyalty towards Yves is evident in the remainder of the book. The affair he has with Cass before he moved to New York makes his homosexuality queer. Baldwin claims that Eric and Cass agreed to this affair.
“‘You’re making me feel very weird,’ [Eric] replied.
You’ve made my heart feel like it’s never been before.
[Cass] inquired, “What do you make me feel?”
She could tell he wanted to do something for her. 242]
Eric, as a homosexual willing to have a romantic relationship with women, shows how the concepts of desire, body and identity are interwoven, or not. The affair of Eric and Cass indicates that the concepts of bodies, identities and desires are not necessarily interwoven.
Baldwin argues Eric can still desire women despite his homosexuality. Annamarie Jagose argues in a book entitled Queer Theory An Introduction that men who marry women, identify as heterosexual, but still want to have sex are not necessarily homosexuals or secret homosexuals.  Eric’s affair reminds of Carl Wittman in “A Gay Manifesto”, who asserted that a homosexual identity was not based on a sexual desire with whom one had sex but rather a social recognition, a willingness and capacity to identify as homosexual. Baldwin, Jagose, Wittman and others suggest that the gender or sexuality of a partner is not what defines one’s identity. Sex and sexuality, they say, are different concepts. Eric’s desire is shown as being indiscriminate to bodies and identities.
Cass has a difficult time separating her desire, body and identity. Vivaldo’s friend, Eric and Cass’s mutual acquaintance, says that Cass surprised him more than Eric about the affair. This could suggest that Cass has been deemed more conservative or more prudent by Eric. Unlike Eric, perhaps the real issue isn’t the body being desired, or how it impacts one’s self-identity, but the very existence of desire. Vivaldo’s girlfriend remarked, “Cass has two children and is an adult woman.” What about the kids? “Those kids will hate her”. [Baldwin, pp. There is an assumption that there is a dual standard in the case of promiscuity. Eric, an openly homosexual man, can have a sexually ambiguous affair, even though he is in a relationship. However, Cass, a married woman who cheats her husband is criticized by her friends.
If we ignore sexuality, sex – the act combining bodies with desire – is inherently gendered. Wittman argues that Eric’s affair consolidates his homosexuality by allowing him to ignore naturalized gender roles. Cass is not able to accept this departure from gender norms and continues to be sexually oppressed. Wittman adds that, “One big problem [for homosexuals] comes down to our male chauvinism”, Eric’s sexual exploitation of Cass is due to the gender difference. [Wittman] Cass’s desire to escape her boring, oppressive marriage is thwarted by Eric because of the gender roles that prevent women from acting on their desires.
Gender is a big factor in how the bodies, identities, desires, and other elements are interwoven within Another Country. Eric’s acceptance of sexual flexibility allows him to distinguish between the three categories and keep them separate. Eric’s homosexuality, and his ability to live outside of gender roles is what allows him to be sexually fluid without any consequence to his identity. Cass is bound by gender roles and cannot engage in sexual fluidity. This is because she has naturalized gender. Cass can’t break completely free of gender roles.
The novel depicts the interweaving as complex, and the fact that these categories are reaffirming the gender roles in society. Baldwin’s Eric character suggests that a person can be truly happy and free of the confusion created by these categories and gender roles.
Paraphrased: In addition
James Baldwin: Another Country (New York, Dell Publishing Company; 1963), page 158
 Annamarie Jaguare, Queer Theory (New York: New York University Press 2001), p. 7.
 Carl Wittman, “A Gay Manifesto”, Queer Theory Course Reader, Cheryl Kader Instructor, UWM Spring 2016, p.