Go Tell It on the Mountain: Battle of the Flesh Essay example

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Go Tell It on the Mountain: Battle of the Flesh
Angela E. Baier
Nebraska Wesleyan University

Go Tell It on the Mountain: Battle of the Flesh There are numerous themes in the American classic Go Tell It on the Mountain (1952). James Baldwin uses racism and family conflict to weave a tale of one black families struggle in a white world. However, the predominant theme of the novel is the struggle between the Spirit and the flesh when one tries to walk with the Lord. Baldwin uses his characters names and events in their lives to parallel the Bible and help create a sense of the strong desire to be Godly while trying to fight the desire of the flesh. He uses a poetic literary style that shows the importance of the Bible and Christianity
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Elizabeth, John’s mother, is the mother of John the Baptist in the Bible (Luke 1, NLT). Deborah, Gabriel’s first wife in the novel, “was a prophet who had become a judge in Israel” (Judges 4:4, NLT). Her main role was to encourage people to obey God, much like the Deborah found in Go Tell It on the Mountain. Esther has an entire book in her name in the Bible while the Esther in the novel was born into a family of “sinful people…, who never, except at Christmastime or Easter, appeared in church” (Baldwin, 1952, p. 113). Gabriel has an extramarital affair with this woman who gives birth to his first son, Royal. Elisha in the story was much like the Elisha of the Bible, at least in John’s eyes. Elisha cared about John’s salvation just as biblical Elisha cared about the people of Israel (2 Kings 5, NLT). Even John’s younger sisters who are not mentioned much in the story are named Sarah and Ruth- two well known biblical names. One of the main themes of the Bible is man’s struggle between the Spirit, which is “given” to one who believes in God, and the “flesh,” the worldly desires one is born with and/or acquires throughout a lifetime. Galatians 5:16-17 says “So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just opposite
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