Go Tell It on the Mountain

by

James Baldwin

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Roy Character Analysis

Elizabeth and Gabriel’s son and John’s brother. Presumably, Roy is short for Royal, a name Gabriel gives his son “because the line of the faithful [is] a royal line,” and his son is “a royal child.” Roy, however, is not religious, and he frequently gets into trouble. He serves as a foil to John, who by comparison is restrained and dedicated. Roy runs with a rough crowd of boys and claims to have “done it” with some girls around the corner. Everyone believes that “if the Lord does not change [Roy’s] heart,” he will grow up to be a sinner, and Gabriel frequently beats him to bring him to God. Roy’s forehead is slashed after he gets into a fight with some white boys, but he is not seriously hurt.

Roy Quotes in Go Tell It on the Mountain

The Go Tell It on the Mountain quotes below are all either spoken by Roy or refer to Roy. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Go Tell It on the Mountain published in 2013.
Part 1: The Seventh Day Quotes

Every Sunday morning, then, since John could remember, they had taken to the streets, the Grimes family on their way to church. Sinners along the avenue watched them—men still wearing their Saturday-night clothes, wrinkled and dusty now, muddy-eyed and muddy-faced; and women with harsh voices and tight, bright dresses, cigarettes between their fingers or held tightly in the corners of their mouths. They talked, and laughed, and fought together, and the women fought like the men. John and Roy, passing these men and women, looked at one another briefly, John embarrassed and Roy amused. Roy would be like them when he grew up, if the Lord did not change his heart. These men and women they passed on Sunday mornings had spent the night in bars, or in cat houses, or on the streets, or on rooftops, or under the stairs. They had been drinking. They had gone from cursing to laughter, to anger, to lust. Once he and Roy had watched a man and woman in the basement of a condemned house. They did it standing up. The woman had wanted fifty cents, and the man had flashed a razor.

Related Characters: John, Roy
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: The Prayers of the Saints: Gabriel’s Prayer Quotes

The living son had cursed him—bastard—and his heart was far from God; it could not be that the curse he had heard tonight falling from Roy’s lips was but the curse repeated, so far, so long resounding, that the mother of his first son had uttered as she thrust the infant from her—herself immediately departing, this curse yet on her lips, into eternity. Her curse had devoured the first Royal; he had been begotten in sin, and he had perished in sin; it was God’s punishment, and it was just. But Roy had been begotten in the marriage bed, the bed that Paul described as holy, and it was to him the Kingdom had been promised. It could not be that the living son was cursed for the sins of his father; for God, after much groaning, after many years, had given him a sign to make him know he was forgiven. And yet, it came to him that this living son, this headlong, living Royal, might be cursed for the sin of his mother, whose sin had never been truly repented; for that the living proof of her sin, he who knelt tonight, a very interloper among the saints, stood between her soul and God.

Related Characters: John, Gabriel, Elizabeth, Esther, Roy, Royal
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Go Tell It on the Mountain LitChart as a printable PDF.
Go Tell It on the Mountain PDF

Roy Character Timeline in Go Tell It on the Mountain

The timeline below shows where the character Roy 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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...mother, Elizabeth, “looked almost young” in her best dresses and “straightened hair.” John’s younger brother, Roy, was always on his best behavior, and Sarah, John’s sister, would put a ribbon in... (full context)
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...and “the women fight like the men.” John always feels ashamed as they pass, but Roy is always “amused.” Roy will likely grow up to be one of these men “if... (full context)
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Once, Roy and John watched a couple of “sinners” in a nearby basement, and “they did it... (full context)
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...during lessons, and he “admires” the “leanness, and grace, and strength, and darkness” of him. Roy never pays attention either, presumably for different reasons, but it is “different” for him—no one... (full context)
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...point in the early morning, John falls asleep and wakes again to the sound of Roy arguing with Elizabeth. John enters the kitchen where his brother and mother are fighting. The... (full context)
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Elizabeth and Roy continue their argument, which is about Gabriel. “One thing you can’t say,” Elizabeth says to... (full context)
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“You listen to your father,” Elizabeth says to Roy, “I guarantee you, you won’t end up in no jail.” Roy becomes angry. “You think... (full context)
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...and he notices that there is blood on the steps leading up to the house. “Roy got stabbed with a knife,” she yells and runs into the house. Aunt Florence is... (full context)
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...killed.” Florence steps in suddenly. “Oh, no, you ain’t,” she says sternly. No one let Roy do anything, she says, Roy does what he wants. Elizabeth “can’t put no ball and... (full context)
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...didn’t lose his eye. Look here,” he says to John, forcing him to look at Roy’s face. His forehead has been gashed by a knife, slicing his eyebrow in half. Over... (full context)
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Elizabeth reminds Gabriel that Roy had tried to cut the white boys too and wasn’t exactly innocent. “I reckon you... (full context)
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...at Elizabeth and, “with all his might,” reaches out and “slaps her across the face.” Roy sits up instantly. “Don’t you slap my mother,” he says. “That’s my mother. You slap... (full context)
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As Gabriel winds up to strike Roy again, Florence approaches and stops his arm midair. “Yes, Lord,” she says to him, “you... (full context)
Part 2: The Prayers of the Saints: Gabriel’s Prayer
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...at the church tonight. One had been killed years ago in Chicago, and the other, Roy, is still at home recovering from being slashed. “Only the son of the bondwoman stands... (full context)
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As Elisha cries out, Gabriel thinks of his sons. Roy had cursed him when he called him a bastard, and Esther, the mother of Gabriel’s... (full context)
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...me sorry.” At the time, she was pregnant with Sarah, and they had already had Roy. “We is got two children,” Elizabeth had said, “and soon we’s going to have three;... (full context)
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Gabriel’s affair with Esther lasted a mere nine days, and he isn’t sure exactly when Royal was conceived during that time. His guilt soon consumed him, and he refused to continue... (full context)
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...box with “her living son.” Esther’s parents took to raising the boy, who was named Royal, and Gabriel “watched his son grow up, a stranger to his father and a stranger... (full context)
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“I wonder,” Deborah said to Gabriel one day, “why [Esther] called him Royal? You reckon that his daddy’s name?” Gabriel pretended not to know, but he did. He... (full context)
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The morning that Gabriel learned of Royal’s death, Deborah was sick in bed as she often was. “I hear some mighty bad... (full context)
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...quiet. “Esther weren’t no harlot,” she said. Deborah told Gabriel that she would have “raised [Royal] like [her] own,” and maybe he would still be living. “Honey,” Deborah said, “you better... (full context)
Part 2: The Prayers of the Saints: Elizabeth’s Prayer
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...feels that Gabriel only tolerates her because she is the mother of his biological son, Roy. (full context)
Part 3: The Threshing-Floor
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...“and the Lord’s going to raise him up.” Florence laughs. “That son,” she says, “that Roy. You going to weep for many a eternity before you see him crying in front... (full context)