Go Tell It on the Mountain was published in 1953; it is James Baldwin's first novel and a real success. It took him ten years to complete this work, he was a very polyvalent writer and he published novels: Another Country (1962), short stories: Going to Meet the Man (1965) scripts and plays: The Amen Corner (staged in 1955) The author was born in Harlem in 1924; he attended New York City public schools and was a brilliant student. After graduation in 1942 he did manual jobs and moved to Greenwich Village to write. There he met Richard Wright, in 1944 who became his tutor. In 1948 Baldwin moved to Paris, he spent six years in France and Switzerland where he worked for American journals and concentrated on the writing of his novel. As far as politics is concerned, James Baldwin was an activist in America's Civil Rights movement and achieved the status of unofficial African-American spokesman on racial issues.
[...] He goes to watch movies where the actors are all white and identify with the actress of the movie: decided to see this, for he identifies with the blond white woman ( He even dreams of having a life similar to a white man on p 40. This desire is part of the American Dream that is shared by all American citizens. The reader also has a contradictory feeling towards the character of Gabriel. Gabriel is detestable for what he did to Deborah, and does to Elizabeth and John. [...]
[...] But James like John doesn't believe his father, he is a brilliant student appreciated by his teachers, he's full of hopes and dreams for his future: was not only coloured people who praised John, ( ) but white people also said it ( and the school principal told him: “You're a very bright boy, John Grimes ( John Grimes' father like James' mocked his physical appearance he called him on p21, he tells his son that face was the face of Satan”p30 and that he bears the “mark of the devil's little finger”p31. [...]
[...] Thus we have seen that the theme of fathers and sons was one of the prevailing themes of James Baldwin's Go Tell It on the Mountain. Around this theme many points can be studied, we've seen that the similarities between the protagonist and the author wasn't a stroke of luck as Baldwin's first novel is highly autobiographical and the image of double is very much linked to it as each son is the double of his father and Roy the double of his brother Royal. [...]
[...] This feeling is also linked to the fact that John is fourteen and fight against an inner struggle which concerns his desire to outsmart his stepfather who belittles him and at the same time he doesn't know if he wants to be a preacher like him: until the morning of his fourteenth birthday did he really begin to think about it, and by then it was already too late.” p 11. The father-and-son conflict is indeed very obvious. John wants a better life than his stepfather and doesn't think that religion can offer it since white people are rich: coats”, “silk dresses”, “watches and rings” and don't go to church like they do: ) for their thoughts were not of God and their way was not God's p 41. [...]
[...] In Go It on the Mountain Tell, James Baldwin plays with the effect of contradiction. For example, John's feelings for Gabriel are ambiguous. John hates his stepfather: lived for the day when his father would be dying and he, John, would curse him on his death-bed” p 23. His stepfather is heartless, narrow-minded and intolerant and he doesn't love him like he loves Roy: ) that he hated John because john was not lying on the sofa where Roy lay.”p49. [...]
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