Go Tell It on the Mountain, by James Baldwin

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The novel, Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin, provides a particular insight into the African-American religious experiences in the early twentieth century. The author shows the reader a glimpse into the African-American church in the northern part of the United States by framing the book largely within the characters prayers. Baldwin also forms the characters to show how their past religious experiences mediate their relationships with one another and their surroundings. While there are a large number of outside influences that shape how one relates to others, Baldwin argues that religion is one of the key components in African-American relationships in the early twentieth century.
The broader context of Baldwin’s book is during the Great Migration of African-Americans from the southern portions of America to the northern. The Great Migration was the African-Americans attempt to find better job opportunities and advantages in the north. Go Tell it on the Mountain takes place in a African-American portion of New York and centers its narrative on a storefront church. A great deal of significance can be taken from the fact that Baldwin chose to focus his novel around the storefront church called, “The Temple of the Fire Baptized.” The book’s primary location of the church gives evidence of the importance of religion within the African-American culture. With the church having such a hefty place in the African-American culture it also had strong control over the moral code. Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham wrote about the African-American religion in her article “Rethinking Vernacular Culture: Black Religion and Race Records in the 1920s and 1930s,” “The religious culture of the poor… embraced a strict moral code that denounced th...

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... The beliefs that Florence and Gabriel’s mother had about God and the Word of God shaped how she lived her life because she believed that God would bring down the Caucasian-Americans because of their pride. She taught her children that it was not their responsibility to bring down the white man, but rather, God would bring them down from their lofty position. Interestingly enough, Florence recalls how the big house was brought down. Her mother’s beliefs, in at least one instance, were fulfilled; which, in part solidified their belief system. These beliefs that had been passed down through the generations shaped the way that Gabriel was toward Caucasians. He had a deep hatred toward the white man, yet he never did anything to contest the way the African-Americans were treated because of his belief that God was the one who was going to bring the white man to justice.
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