Go Tell It on the Mountain

by

James Baldwin

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Elizabeth’s Mother Character Analysis

Elizabeth’s mother dies when Elizabeth is just eight years old. She is described as “very fair, and beautiful,” and her health is fragile. Elizabeth hardly knows her mother, and she “never loved her.” Elizabeth’s mother frequently cries, and she smells of “stale milk.” She refers to Elizabeth as “an unnatural child,” presumably because of Elizabeth’s dark skin. Elizabeth believes that she isn’t beautiful like her mother because her skin is too dark, which reflects racists assumptions in America that black women can’t be beautiful.
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Elizabeth’s Mother Character Timeline in Go Tell It on the Mountain

The timeline below shows where the character Elizabeth’s Mother appears in Go Tell It on the Mountain. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2: The Prayers of the Saints: Elizabeth’s Prayer
Faith and Religion Theme Icon
Sex and Morality Theme Icon
Gender, the Patriarchy, and Misogyny Theme Icon
...aunt had been “second in a series of disasters that had ended Elizabeth’s childhood.” Elizabeth’s mother had died when Elizabeth was only eight years old; however, Elizabeth did not initially think... (full context)
Race and Racism Theme Icon
Elizabeth’s mother “had been very fair, and beautiful.” Her health was always poor, and Elizabeth “scarcely” knew... (full context)
Faith and Religion Theme Icon
Sex and Morality Theme Icon
After Elizabeth’s mother died, Elizabeth’s aunt insisted Elizabeth move in with her. She said Elizabeth’s father was not... (full context)
Faith and Religion Theme Icon
...him.” She loved him, and while it was clear that her aunt had loved her mother, she didn’t love Elizabeth. She was cruel to Elizabeth and treated her badly. “You little... (full context)