James Baldwin's Go Tell It On the Mountain and Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones

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James Baldwin's Go Tell It On the Mountain and Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones

In most religions, especially the Judeo-Christian faith, heaven or the afterlife is a place reserved for those who are able to somehow earn or receive an appointed place there during their life on earth. In the Christian tradition, those who attain eternal life are able to forgo the earthly pleasures that tempt them while they live, and form a separate entity that rejects carnality and remains obedient to God. While recognizing themselves as inherently sinful creatures, they seek to come as close as they can to the holiness of the divine during their life on earth, in order to reap the benefits after death. A separation from the world and an eventual
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He would not go back into Egypt for friend, or lover, or bastard son: he would not turn his face from God…” (Baldwin 137, 138). In this passage, the main character decides that because of his newfound faith, he cannot associate with or reach out to the unsaved friends and family in his life. Rather than corrupt himself with their sins and their problems, he chooses to remain separate from them, rejecting them as way to ensure his righteousness and therefore his reward in the afterlife.

In contrast, acceptance of people even through pain is prevalent in The Lovely Bones. After Susie’s murder, Abigail leaves the family and heads to California, where she remains for five years. The news of Jack’s heart attack finally summons her back to where she is needed as a wife and mother. Instead of steeping himself in anger and grief, Jack only moves on and learns to love his wife through the great loss she inflicted on him. When Abigail returns home to Jack’s bedside in the hospital, he tells her, “I fell in love with you again while you were away” (Sebold 280). Indeed, Susie herself reflects that, “His love for my mother wasn’t about looking back and loving something that would never change. It was about loving my mother for everything- for her brokenness and her fleeing…and knowing yet plumbing fearlessly the depths of her ocean eyes” (280, 281). Despite the pain she has caused him, Jack