Go Tell It on the Mountain

by

James Baldwin

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Father James Character Analysis

The preacher at John’s church, the Temple of the Fire Baptized, and Elisha’s uncle. Gabriel is the “head deacon” at the church, but it is Father James who preaches on Sundays and leads revivals. Father James is highly respected by his congregation, and he takes his “duty” as the leader of their “flock” very seriously. He believes the “way of holiness” and “the Word” is a “hard way,” and he claims celibacy until marriage is what is “demanded” by the “the way of the cross.” Father James calls out Elisha and Ella Mae after church one Sunday, and in front of the entire congregation, he accuses the young friends of “walking disorderly.” Elisha and Ella Mae had been innocently spending time together, but according to Father James, they “were in danger of “straying from the truth” by “plucking” the “unripe fig” from the tree “too early.” Father James’s public warning to Ella Mae and Elisha helps the establish the connection between sex and sin in the novel.
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Father James Character Timeline in Go Tell It on the Mountain

The timeline below shows where the character Father James appears in Go Tell It on the Mountain. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: The Seventh Day
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Gender, the Patriarchy, and Misogyny Theme Icon
...Harlem,” but it is “the holiest and best.” Gabriel is “head deacon,” but the pastor, Father James , preaches on Sundays and leads revivals. John’s family is constantly late to church on... (full context)
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Sex and Morality Theme Icon
...“more serious,” however, is hard for John because of Elisha, his Sunday school teacher and Father James ’s nephew. Elisha is from Georgia, and at seventeen, he is “already saved” and a... (full context)
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Sex and Morality Theme Icon
One Sunday after service, Father James had “uncovered sin in the congregation of the righteous.” Elisha and Ella Mae, a young... (full context)
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Sex and Morality Theme Icon
...and Sister McCandless visit with Elisha and John a bit, mostly talking about how wonderful Father James is. “Indeed, that is the truth,” Sister Price says. Not every pastor will “set down... (full context)