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Go Tell It On The Mountain Setting Symbolism For John High School Essay

650 words - 3 pages

“But to look back from the stony plain along the road which led one to that place is not at all the same thing as walking on the road; the perspective to say the very least, changes only with the journey; only when the road has, all abruptly and treacherously, and with an absoluteness that permits no argument, turned or dropped or risen is one able to see all that one could not have seen from any other place.” -James Baldwin,  Go Tell It on the Mountain. Go Tell It on the Mountain takes place in three primary settings in the 1930’s: Harlem, the Upper East Side, and The Church of the Fire Baptized. The story begins with John, the novel’s teenage protagonist, on his birthday cleaning the dirty house. This is before his mother gives him money, which he takes into the city to see a movie. Later that day, John is sent to The Church of the Fire Baptized, the baptist church where his father works, to clean before the Saturday night service. These settings provoke different emotions for John, as well as the other characters. Each setting in Go Tell It on the Mountain symbolizes a different monism for John.
The city, where John chooses to spend his birthday money, symbolizes sin. Immediately deciding to go see a movie with the money his mother gave him, John starts off to the Upper East Side. It is there he comes across an abundance of white people, spending seemingly endless money, that have no love for him. Throughout his walk to the movie theater, he keeps his head down. If his father, a preacher, knew what movie he chose, he would not have approved. The protagonist of the movie is a white woman who has no morals and spends her days and nights partying, yet John still relates and sympathizes with her. Baldwin describes John walking into the theater as: “Having once decided to enter, he did not...

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