Discussion Question #12: Character in “Go Tell It on the Mountain”
The language used by James Baldwin in this book is mainly Biblical and allusive (Baldwin, 1953). The Scriptural quotes infuse daily speech and inner monologue as well as the authorial voice, and such pronouncements are echoed in the text. The paper connects the text of Gabriel and Elizabeth to their life and survival mode.
Gabriel finds respect, dignity, and authority in the church beyond the castration forces that are wielded by the White men. Therefore, devotion enables him to control his sexual desire towards noble aims. However, his sinful adolescence and the subsequent affairs undermine his sense of manhood. His action caused his seed to be scattered and to have a first child, a son whom Gabriel disowned. Furthermore, it was his choice to marry Elizabeth and her child, and this justifies his text, “Set thine house in order.” In order to claim responsibility for his actions and life, he seemingly admits he is nothing but what is declared by the Whites. On the other hand, Gabriel believes that there is no public mercy because any public recognition of his sins will be the public undoing of his agency.
Elizabeth’s text began from her familial isolation. She was married to Richard who was later arrested because he was on the subway platform during the arrest of three thieves. In her text, she withheld her pregnancy to Richard while trying to comfort him. She hoped that…
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