March 4, 2015
Eng. 003
Literary Essay

Parent versus Son Conflict in “Go Tell It On The Mountain”

In any father and son relationship, animosity from the father can be the sons’ detriment. In James Baldwin’s “Go Tell It On The Mountain”, there are two sons, Roy and John, under the father-ship of Gabriel Grimes. As we all know, there is always some type of favoritism amongst children and their parents. With favoritism, you know one child gets treated better than the other and leaves the other child feeling neglected. With The Grimes, Gabriel favors Roy more than John because that is his biological son and Gabriel sees Roy, as his new chance to raise a good son because his illegitimate son was killed. The conflict between Roy and Gabriel was very unexpected because he was looked at his favorite. Baldwin’s proposes a sense of conflict within a paren¬¬¬t and son relationship, which has a profound impact on both the son’s.
Even under the strictest parental control, children can still be rebellious. “Don’t you slap my mother. That’s my mother. You slap her again, you black bastard, and I swear to God I’ll kill you.” This quote describes Roy defending for his mother. Gabriel is in disbelief at his son saying this to him because he overlooked Roy’s capabilities and it shocks him because it was unexpected. Due to his anger, he slaps his wife across the face with all his might. Roy tries to stand up and defend for his mother because of Gabriel’s anger. Referring to all the stereotypes we hear about men and women, a man is supposed to be the protector of his family, fighter and defend himself; a woman is meant to be a “stay-home” mom, housewife and take care of her wifely/motherly duties. I believe that Gabriel lives by this because he expects his wife to take care of the children, tell them what and what not to do, cook for the family and clean the house. He thinks if he works hard, does right by keeping the family religiously and raises them correctly then he should not have to come home to his wife not cooperating as she is supposed to. He bashes her and says cruel things because Roy had been stabbed and thinks it is her fault that he was stabbed because she was not doing her “motherly duties”.
The relationship between Gabriel and John is essential to the plot. The hatred between them is mutual which results in a lack of understanding each other. Gabriel’s secret of illegitimacy is not revealed to John, which results in a loveless childhood. The main reason for Gabriel’s mistreatment towards John is because he is not his biological father. There was also a sense of figurative conflict in the last section of the book, The Threshing-Floor, where it represents an internal battle between good and evil. John had found himself lying on the floor looking up to God. Something in his body moved him because he had heard a voice insisting him to rise so he could spiritually leave the church but he just felt powerless, he could not rise even if he wanted to. During his visions, John struggles trying to concentrate because he was distracted by how his father dominates his life. John sees his father looking down on him very foul. “Set thine house in order, for thou shalt die and not live.” This quote represents Gabriel speaking negatively to John while he was trying to rise. It demonstrates how adversely he impacted John’s life because he didn’t approve of him at all. The ironic voice speaks again and says, “Get up, John. Get up, boy. Don’t let them keep you here. You got everything your daddy got.” This quote explains that after John hears this voice, he knows that he is saved because something takes over his body. He finds himself speechless because of what just happened but the congregation sings for him and his new found deliverance. He feels the sense of security because he knows he is finally one of them. His mother was proud of him but on the other hand of course Gabriel gave him a stolid look but John searches for some