Summary of Go and say it in the mountain

In the American literary tradition of the 20th century, the novel Go tell I ton the Mountain was first published in 1953 thanks to the editorial work of Alfred A. Knopf.

Transcendence of the work

According to the critique, Ve y dilo en la montaña is inscribed within the African American narrative current, being one of the works of reference at the time of approaching the role of the Christian and Protestant church in the social struggles of the black communities of the United States, as a factor of deterrence, repression and indoctrination, who, far from advocating for the human rights and liberties of their members, ended up convincing them that if they were slaves, God had willed it, and that it wasn´t necessary to worry about the sufferings of this world, but to work for eternal salvation, where all would be happy, saved and free.

As for his receptivity within the Academy, Go and Say It in the Mountain is regarded as one of the greatest American novels of all time. In fact it was included by the prestigious magazine Time as one of the hundred best novels published in the world between 1923 and 2005. For its part, the Modern Library also gave it a place on its list of the 100 best English novels of the 20th century, in which it was included in 1998.

Summary of Go and say it in the mountain

As for its specific theme, it could be said that Go and say it on the mountain specifically refers to the history of some of the aphoramerican members of the church of the Temple of the Baptized Fire, which is located in Harlem, United States, during the decade of the thirties.

In this way, the novel begins by telling the story of Jhon, an African American teenager, who is the son of a woman named Elizabeth and a preacher of this church, named Gabriel. However, the preaching function of this man, who is not Jhon’s biological father, isn´t really a guarantor of his goodness at all. On the contrary, during this first part of the novel, Gabriel is reflected as a despotic man, offensive and overly strict, which makes Jhon occasionally feel the desire to kill him and escape.

After this presentation, the novel is divided into three major reflections or prayers, in which each of the main characters of this work, are dedicated to tell their particular stories. The first to take the narrative voice will be Florence, Gabriel’s sister, who will tell how she was born in a home formed by her father, who despite his freedom decided to work until the end of his days for a white southern family, and her mother, who always showed more love for her brother Gabriel, than for her.

A little older, Florence begins to suffer the sexual harassment of her boss, which together with the resentment she had developed all those years for her mother, make her decide, and buy a one-way ticket to New York.

This is how Florence leaves her life forever, despite the illness of her mother, whom she abandons to be Gabriel, her favorite son who cares for her. Once in the big apple, Florence meets Frank, whom she falls in love with and marries.

However, the difference in offspring and the lack of compatibility of characters will make Frank desist from marriage a decade later, leaving one night never to return. Some time later, Florence learns from a lover of her husband that he has died in France, while fighting in the First World War.

The second narrative voice that takes power during the novel is Gabriel, the preacher, Florence’s younger brother and Elizabeth’s husband. This man begins by recounting the sinful life he led during his youth, before giving himself to the word of Christ, which has given him so much, including his own career as a preacher.

He also tells of his relationships with two different women: Deborah, who is the one who led him to Christ, and who becomes his first wife; and Esther, a girl he will meet at work, and whom he will leave guided by guilt, despite the fact that she is pregnant, and by whom he will only give him the savings he has stolen from his wife, to continue his life.

Also, Gabriel will tell how life led each of these three people to death: first, Esther dies giving birth. Years later, her son Royal perishes in a bar fight in Chicago; finally his first wife Deborah also dies, finally confessing to her that she has always known about Esther and her son.

Finally, it is Elizabeth, Gabriel’s second wife, who takes the narrative voice of the novel. This is how she recounts the great change in her life following the death of her beloved father, as this caused her to move with a bitter aunt to New York. In fact, this aunt’s character makes her some time after moving in with a friend of his.

Life also leads her to become pregnant with a man named Richard, with whom she has a dating relationship, but who never keeps his promises, and in fact ends up in prison. Alone and pregnant, she decides to work her way out with her son. There she meets Florence, who in turn introduces her to Gabriel, who ends up marrying her and recognizing Jhon as her son.

After knowing these three stories, the novel returns again to what happens in the Church, where Jhon is seen as having a religious experience, going into a trance, due to the coming of the holy spirit, and becoming a religion, accepting Jesus as his savior. Finally, the novel ends with Florence’s threat to tell Elizabeth about Gabriel’s dark past, of which she knows nothing.

Image: portrait of James Baldwin, author of Go and Tell the Mountain / Source:

Summary of Go and say it in the mountain
Source: Education  
October 31, 2019

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