Go Tell It on the Mountain: Battle of the Flesh

1519 words 7 pages
Go Tell It on the Mountain: Battle of the Flesh
Angela E. Baier
Nebraska Wesleyan University

Go Tell It on the Mountain: Battle of the Flesh There are numerous themes in the American classic Go Tell It on the Mountain (1952). James Baldwin uses racism and family conflict to weave a tale of one black families struggle in a white world. However, the predominant theme of the novel is the struggle between the Spirit and the flesh when one tries to walk with the Lord. Baldwin uses his characters names and events in their lives to parallel the Bible and help create a sense of the strong desire to be Godly while trying to fight the desire of the flesh. He uses a poetic literary style that shows the importance of the Bible and Christianity
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These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict” (NLT). James Baldwin weaves numerous stories of this struggle from the Bible into the lives of the characters in Go Tell It on the Mountain. The story starts off on John Grimes fourteenth birthday as he goes throughout the day struggling in his mind with a choice he feels compelled to make between following the God that his family follows and the ungodly ways that beckon him in the world that surrounds him. He alludes to some great sin he has committed that he feels must surely stop him from being eligible to be one of the “saints” at his parents’ church(Baldwin, 1952, p. 11). And does he really want to anyways? His stepfather who is one of the deacons of the church is mean and unloving, often hitting his boys in an attempt to “bring them up right” (Baldwin, 1952, p. 17). As the story progresses, Baldwin offers a deeper glance into Gabriel’s story and his own struggle with the flesh. Gabriel’s story parallels the story of Abraham in the Bible who fathers a child with his wife’s maid servant after a promise from God to be the “father of many nations.” This child, Ishmael, is later denied his rightful inheritance and sent away with his mother (Genesis 15-21, NLT). The young Gabriel rebels against his mothers Christian teachings with drinking, gambling, and women. After he is saved and begins preaching, Gabriel receives what he believes to be a


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