Study Guide

Go Tell It on the Mountain

by James Baldwin

Go Tell It on the Mountain Analysis

Places Discussed (Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Harlem

*Harlem. Predominantly African American neighborhood in New York City’s Upper Manhattan. Harlem is the scene of the real-time narrative of the novel, an urban community in which the lives of the central characters intertwine. Harlem is also symbolic of the historic northward migration of African Americans seeking escape from the Jim Crow South in the early twentieth century. As a physical marker of historical transition, Harlem symbolizes an ambiguous free space for the Grimes family, providing the sanctuary of a black-defined neighborhood in America, but also signifying restricted space on another level for the characters. For example, when John Grimes and his biological father, Richard, try to create a life outside the boundaries of Harlem, they must struggle with external racial barriers and internalized mental barriers to do so.

*American South

*American South. As a region, the South resonates with symbolic importance in the memories, prayers, and visions of the novel’s characters. None of the real-time action of the novel occurs in the South; however, the South is symbolic of the psychological and historical origins of the Grimes family and other key characters. The South also works symbolically on other levels. It signifies the legacy of slavery in American history, with all of its physical, mental, spiritual and political implications for the characters, for African American history, and for the country as a whole. As embodied in the consciousness of the characters, the South...

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Go Tell It on the Mountain Historical Context

125th and Lenox Ave., Harlem, 1950. Published by Gale Cengage

The Rise of Harlem
The Harlem area of New York City, where the Grimes family resides, is internationally famous as a...

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Go Tell It on the Mountain Literary Style

Setting
The setting of this novel—the impoverished part of New York known as Harlem, and more specifically the...

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Go Tell It on the Mountain Literary Techniques

Go Tell It on the Mountain employs many of the techniques of autobiographical fiction. The author's natural familiarity with the...

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Go Tell It on the Mountain Social Concerns

If Baldwin's fiction seems suffused with social issues, they are there primarily because they exist in the lives of his characters. Baldwin...

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Go Tell It on the Mountain Compare and Contrast

1935: America was, like most of the world, in the midst of a long economic depression, which began with the collapse of the...

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Go Tell It on the Mountain Topics for Further Study

The adult characters in this book have moved to New York from the South, a move that was common among blacks m the early decades of the...

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Go Tell It on the Mountain Media Adaptations

James Baldwin, Author, a videocassette from the Black Americans of Achievement collection, available from Schlessinger Video, 1994....

(The entire section is 102 words.)

Go Tell It on the Mountain What Do I Read Next?

Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison's 1992 novel Jazz takes place in Harlem in the 1920s and gives a stylized...

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Go Tell It on the Mountain Bibliography and Further Reading

Sources
Shirley Allen, "Religious Symbolism and Psychic Reality in Baldwin's Go Tell It On The Mountain" in...

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Go Tell It on the Mountain Bibliography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

Sources for Further Study

Baldwin, James. Conversations with James Baldwin. Edited by Fred Standley and Louis H. Pratt. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1989. The conversations are the widest-ranging collection in one book. Their subject areas are broad, including race, hatred, sex, the new South, and the role of the writer. The interviewers include a similarly broad array of writers, philosophers, and people in political and social movements, such as Studs Terkel, David Frost, Nat Hentoff, and Josephine Baker.

Campbell, James. Talking at the Gates: A Life of James Baldwin. New York: Viking, 1991....

(The entire section is 656 words.)