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Obstacles in Go Tell It on the Mountain

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What are the obstacles that John faces in Go tell it on the mountain?

In the novel "Go Tell it on the Mountain" by James Baldwin the main character; John; encounters many obstacles throughout his journey. The first one being his father Gabriel; trying to make John as he is, the second obstacle John faces is his dilemma with religion and racism. Another obstacle John faces is feeling trapped as well as Johns experience with figuring out his bisexuality.

Johns obstacle with his father Gabriel stems from the fact that John wasn’t Gabriel's legitimate son and Gabriel preferred his brother, Roy, as compared to him. John also didn't like or understand the way his father treated him, his mother and his aunt Florence. He constantly demeaned John by calling him hurtful things like the ‘devils son’ and a sinner. Gabriel is John's greatest enemy through this novel. The two hate each other, though they can't really come out and say it. Gabriel hates John for being better than his two biological sons, and John hates Gabriel because Gabriel hates him and treats him poorly.

Johns dilemma about religion also starts with his father pressuring him into becoming like him.  For a long time, he has been told that he must become a preacher once he grows up. However, on this birthday he is not certain if he wants to satisfy others request by becoming a priest. John didn't know anything other than the church or praying. He had been taught how to act for his whole life. The obstacle started arising when John started becoming his own man. He referred to the church as ‘the tabernacle he loves yet feared’. On one hand John wanted to live his life according to his wants, not what his father expected of him, but he was not allowed to do so; and on the other hand, John still loved religion and the beliefs that came along with it. John struggled with coming to terms with how much he wanted religion to be a part of his life.

John feels an undefined attraction toward Elisha. He doesn't know what's happening to him as goes through alien changes, and this later turns into an obstacle. Firstly, he’s been told that sex was a sin by practically everyone around him, and feeling an attraction towards a man was something unheard of; Johns only ever seen a man and a woman together. John has a difficult time concentrating during his Sunday morning prayer because he is distracted by Elisha whom John believes to be "tall and handsome”. Baldwin does not outright say that John is bisexual, but there are abounding instances which advance that he may be. John didn't know how to cope with these new feeling and this problem was prevalent throughout the novel.



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