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Go Tell It On The Mountain PDF by James Baldwin (1953)

To browse Academia. Skip to main content. By using our site, you agree to our collection of information through the use of cookies. To learn more, view our Privacy Policy. Log In Sign Up. Download Free PDF. Miriam Sivan. Download PDF. A short summary of this paper. Christianity and Literature Vol. I This paradigm of exile and return, so central to Jewish history and thought, is relevant to other nations, especially those who, like the Jews, have experienced an extended diaspora.

In a lengthy conversation with Margaret Mead, James Baldwin spoke of ours as a "century of displaced people and wanderers [in which] everyone is an exile" Rap Global transmigration, crossing borders both literal and figurative, is so commonplace today that the search for better fortune or sheer survival has left an indelible imprint on modern consciousness.

Accompa- nying this movement from one landscape to another is the tension between retaining what was and remains one's national identity and assimilating into new territories and cultures. It can be argued that it is in fictional characters' spiritual lives, one of the anchors of self and collective identity, and in their attempts to place them- selves within the religious traditions of their community that this sought- after reconciliation of impending alienation and threatening assimilation is most pronounced.

Hence, it is in literature and in social movements, par- ticularly those of "minority" communities, that distinctiveness is most stressed.

Religious faith and practice in this context provide a viable return through the often unconscious, as well as culturally constructed, phenome- non of memory. At the end of Baldwin's novel Go Tell It on the Mountain, John Grimes, the young protagonist, has an epiphany or what is more commonly referred to as a visionary conversion experience, a staple of American reli- gious life.

He embraces Jesus and endures a state of ecstatic mysticism in which he experiences "his drifting soul John's rebirth in Christ, his being "saved," is an affirmation of one of the strongest bulwarks in the African American community during slavery, and especially since its abolition: the black church. The church is the African American's in- heritance. Black writers and the characters they create are not so easily di- vested ofit, nor should they be.

Though John Grimes's commitment to Christ is representative of black assimilation into American white culture, this adoption of Christian beliefs not only helped the community forge a stron- ger connection to their country and society, but it also enabled slaves and then emancipated Africans to shore up their sense of self-worth and value.

Albert J. Raboteau, writing in his classic work Slave Religion: The Invisi- ble Institution in the Antebellum South, observes that "as one institution which freed blacks were allowed to control, the church was the center of social, economic, educational, and political activity. It was also a source of conti- nuity and identity for the black community" Here, Raboteau postu- lates, blacks were able to bridge the chasm between the two continents of Africa and America, between the past and the present 4.

It is in this space both the literal church enclosure and the spiritual vault the church created around its congregants that remembering took place; it is here that expres- sion was given to memory. Du Bois claimed that the double consciousness haunting Afri- can Americans, the conflict between African and American points of view, could be both an empowering and a dislocating phenomenon 5. Amid the twin pressures of retention and memory, the cultural drama of the African American slave,and then free person, was played out.

Here, in the landscape of exile, the chaotic assemblage of personal and collective history was threat- ened. Du Bois also claimed in that the black church was not only "the first Afro-American institution" but that its music "spr[a]ng from the African forest, where its counterpart can still be heard[;] it was adapted, changed, and intensified by the tragic soul-life of the slave, until, under stress of law and whip, it became the one true expression of a people's sorrow, despair, and hope" African American literature, according to Abena P.

Busia, "has there- fore become a drive for self-definition and redefinition, and any discussion of this drive must recognize this, its proper context: We are speaking from a state of siege" 2.

John Grimes's journey over the course of Go Tell It on the Mountain mirrors this movement from imprisonment to freedom, from a vague sense of self to a greater consciousness not only of who he is and might be but also of a readiness to start out on the journey to know more.

John breaks free of the pressures of the streets to seek his own path via the church. Unbeknownst to him, the storefront Pentecostal church in which his father is head deacon has embedded through its songs and rituals the elements of African worship. It was here that black Americans could find purpose, a sense of worth in their lives and in themselves. Here they were reminded that they were not beasts of labor but human beings, with rights, dignity, and a wealth of aspi- rations and goals.

As the novel recounts, the church stoked the fires of free- dom: They wandered into the valley forever; and they smote the rock forever; and the waters sprang, perpetually, in the perpetual desert. They cried unto the Lord forever,and lifted up their eyes forever. No, the fire could not hurt them, and yes, the lion's jaws were stopped; the serpent was not their master, the grave was not their resting-place.

By doing so, as is seen in the figure of John Grimes, they were able to transcend the incessant horrors of Amer- ican racism. The spiritual foundation laid by the church provided its believ- ers with an essential metaphysical truth that reached beyond time and place and circumstance: love as an antidote to hatred, notions of justice as an expression of this love.

Baldwin's protagonist reconciles the state of internal exile he is in by re- membering that in Jesus' eyes he is a man. In a church whose style of wor- ship is resonant of Africa, where he is able to experience "both baptism and the [R]ing [5]hout and [where the] biblical word is both juxtaposed and giv- en expression in the incarnation of the African spirit" Murphy 15I , he sees himself powerfully, beautifully, as a person able to initiate change in his own being and thus the world.

Go Tell It on the Mountain is not simply a story of the "great migration" Downloaded from cal. Often the transposition to northern soil sev- ered the anchoring connection to the black church. Many who forfeited this bond fell into an often destructive vacuum fomented by the pathology of an unmitigated racism and the treacherous social and economic conditions that were its most obvious symptoms. They could succumb more easily to a kind of nihilism, leading lives of debauchery and self-destruction.

As John's mother Elizabeth says, contemplating the nearly unendurable bombardment that blacks and particularly black men experienced, "Only the love of God could establish order in this chaos; to Him the soul must turn to be deliv- ered" Sometimes this severance occurred even in the rural South, as in the case of Gabriel Grimes, John's stepfather.

After years of excessive drinking and sexual promiscuity, Gabriel "faced the lone tree, beneath the naked eye of Heaven;' and begged Jesus to forgive and save him Born again in the church, Gabriel raises John and his other children in strict accordance with its doctrine.

It is ironic that Gabriel, who is vehemently and even violently anti-white, has immersed himself in a white European institution. He as- sumes that the Bible is his story, the only story for him, rejecting Africa in favor of church doctrine. Unlike the slaves, whose "appropriation of the Exodus story was He does not adopt the freedom, au- tonomy, and exultation of Exodus but only the prohibitions of Leviticus, the threats and punishments of an angry and jealous Father.

Gabriel, who is con- stantly struggling to repress what he considers to be his "baser" instincts, sees a world rife with sin and with little room for forgiveness. He would reject the notion that as a reverend he is colluding in promoting his own people's passivity, if not their subjugation.

By the time Gab- riel Grimes has found his salvation in the church, he is unaware not only of the atmosphere in which the Gospel was preached to Africans in America but also of the history of Africans in Africa.

He obviously is not to be faulted for this. Cut off from the oral traditions of Africa, with no Moses at Mount Sinai to rekindle ancestral memories and recreate rituals, Gabriel has little choice but to use what is available to him to keep himself on the straight and narrow.

He has learned the lesson of despair on his own flesh and sees the Temple of the Fire Baptized as "an oasis in the desert of perdition. John Grimes is overwhelmed by violence: his father's, white society's, and the street's. For him, like his father, the church "juxtaposes the wonder of Christianity Christianity adds a patina of hope to the despair that engulfs John's family, but as an institution that has both encouraged and stymied black aspirations, the church also serves as a kind of holding pen for his longings and anger.

It is not surprising, then, that John looks elsewhere for resolution to the dark tyranny of his father's house, to the agony of his mother's gentle helpless- ness, to the racism of white society stalking the borders of his young life, and to his own burgeoning sexuality that he regards as sinful. The secular books of school beckon to him. His intelligence brings him the special attention of white teachers, which despite Gabriel's vociferous protests he relishes.

When he goes against his father's commands and spends his birthday mon- ey on a movie about a sexually promiscuous woman, it is his way of attempt- ing to understand the world at large, especially its "wickedness:' His own feelings of lust, which he cannot help but interpret as evil, haunt him.

John attempts to look everywhere but where his father directs his gaze. And, while the drama of the book seems to lead him in one direction, John's conversion on his fourteenth birthday is not wholly unexpected: "Everyone had always said that John would be a preacher when he grew up, just like his father" When it occurs, though, no one is really prepared.

Both father and son are jolted out of their passively hostile stances toward one another and must stake out new claims to the territory they are now destined to share. John Grimes's fourteenth birthday, then, is also his first. He not only marks the passage of this new year but is also dramatically aware of his rebirth in Christ. Over the course of the Saturday night leading into the Sunday church service, John falls into an ecstatic trance on the "thresh- ing floor;' the open area before the altar During the darkest hours of night he struggles with the voices of good and evil inside him-the good encouraging him to call out to Jesus for assistance, the evil chiding him for his naivete in thinking that a "white" God can provide the right answers.

Though John perceives these two options as diametrically opposed, in fact they are not so rigidly distanced one from the other.

In the end John has his vision. Like the biblical Ruth who lay at Boaz's feet on the threshing floor during the barley harvest, he is blessed for appre- ciating and identifying with another people's belief system, for taking their God as his own. Assimilation, or acculturation, in both narratives is reward- ed. Ruth's devotion to her foreign-born mother-in-law, Naomi, results in her husband's kinsman, Boaz, marrying her.

She bears a son and eventually becomes great-grandmother to Israel's King David of the Messianic line. John is similarly rewarded with a promise of reconciliation and restoration. Love for and surrender to Jesus, the God he assumes as his own, ensures that he will survive his father, as well as the streets, and become a user of language a preacher, a writer to garner power and internal resilience. In this way his story will join "all of Afro-American literature His faith in the love of Jesus will enable John to leave his father's barren house and journey to a richer promised land.

John's natural father, Richard, provides a harsh contrast to both John's in- nocent faith and Gabriel's sharp conversion.

Richard embodies, without John's knowing it, the voice of rebellion, urging him to raise himself off the threshing floor and to "leave this temple and go out into the world" For Richard the church is only about a white God, and as such he has no use for it.

When Elizabeth, John's mother, innocently asks Richard why since they have come north he and his friends never attend church to worship Jesus, he responds hotly: "You can tell that puking bastard to kiss my big black ass" He regards the church as part of the oppressive white establishment, which both hounds his body and attempts to infiltrate his mind and spirit.

John, however, finds that "his drifting soul was anchored in the love of God; in the rock that endured forever" Jesus may be traditionally construed as a white man, but John can still identify himself with the prom- ise of salvation in Christ's embrace. He is drawn to the "lore of Christianity, for it is both his cross and his curse.

Without the hope found in ritual prayer, life would be unbearable" Bell Even so it becomes unbearable for Richard, who commits suicide in response to being physically assaulted by white policemen.

Out of and Back to Africa: James Baldwin's GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN

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Look Inside. Baldwin has told his feverish story. He knows Harlem, his people, and the language they use. Find books coming soon in Sign in. Join Our Authors for Virtual Events.

Free Lead Sheet – Go Tell It On The Mountain

Look Inside. Baldwin has told his feverish story. He knows Harlem, his people, and the language they use. Find books coming soon in Sign in.

To browse Academia. Skip to main content. By using our site, you agree to our collection of information through the use of cookies. To learn more, view our Privacy Policy.

To browse Academia. Skip to main content. By using our site, you agree to our collection of information through the use of cookies. To learn more, view our Privacy Policy. Log In Sign Up.

Go Tell It on the Mountain. Plot Summary. LitCharts Teacher Editions.

 У нас ничего такого не случалось. - Вот.  - Она едва заметно подмигнула.  - В этом все и .

Офицер подошел к столу. Кожа на левой руке загорелая, если не считать узкой светлой полоски на мизинце. Беккер показал лейтенанту эту полоску.

 Я не знаю, кто вы такой и чего хотите, но если вы немедленно отсюда не уйдете, я вызову службу безопасности отеля и настоящая полиция арестует вас за попытку выдать себя за полицейского офицера. Беккер знал, что Стратмор в пять минут вызволит его из тюрьмы, но понимал, что это дело надо завершить совершенно. Арест никак не вписывался в его планы. Росио подошла еще ближе и изучающе смотрела на .

 Он называл ее… - Речь его стала невнятной и едва слышной. Медсестра была уже совсем близко и что-то кричала Беккеру по-испански, но он ничего не слышал.

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