The primary action of Baldwin's "Go Tell It on the Mountain" takes place in Harlem in 1935. John Grimes has just turned fourteen and his family expects him to become a preacher like his father Gabriel. However, John realizes that he has reservations about this profession, partially due to a mutual lack of respect and love for his father. After a turbulent scene in which his younger brother Roy (the name is significant, referring to a ghost in Gabriel's past) has been brutally injured in a knife fight, John and his family attend a Saturday night service at the storefront church where his father is a deacon. The night's passionate prayers evoke flashbacks to the personal histories of the adults in John's family, depicting the events that brought them to Harlem from their respective towns in the South and the development of their attitudes towards religion and love. John's Aunt Florence, Gabriel's older sister, fled from her ailing mother and drunken, disorderly brother and came North to seek better opportunities, only to end up in an unhappy marriage with a man who turned out to be not much different from her brother. Gabriel cleaned up his life after his mother died, became a preacher, and married an older woman who was sympathetic and supportive to him during his troubled times, although he stayed in one fateful instance, for which Florence still harbours resentment towards him. John's mother Elizabeth originally came to Harlem with her boyfriend in a doomed affair, and later she and Gabriel got married after he became a widower. Although John is the central character, the novel focuses more on the lives of Gabriel, Elizabeth, and Florence, and how their respective backgrounds shaped John's physical upbringing and spiritual development. Generally, it is a statement on religion as an important influence on the American black experience. And it is a brilliant example of the style: The structure is unique and effective, the prose is beautifully eloquent in its symbolism and imagery, and the dialogue is sharply realistic and thoughtful....Continua
read it til about halfway...but i really didnt like the story or the way it was written. So I just returned it to the library. Reading it was becoming too much of an obligation, and no longer a joy.