Thursday, September 15, 2005

Sex Is Bad Unless It’s With A Heathen

I haven't had time to write a post...but here is my paper for this week's Baldwin class.

I will be back to write about me going to church...and Wade going with me...Who's Wade? Stay tuned...and I'm happy to say he's coming over dinner 2morrow...He requested lasagna...I can't wait to cook it LOL

Sex Is Bad Unless It’s With A Heathen

In Baldwin’s Go Tell It On The Mountain, James Baldwin continuously describes the characters’ belief that any form of sexual contact outside of the marital bed is unforgivable. All forms of illegitimate sex are to be considered by the people in the novel as unrighteous and unholy. However, Baldwin also shows a degree of liberation when a Christian copulates with a freethinking person. Baldwin shows that these acts are can be celebratory and can provide momentary freedom from religious dogma.
The suspicion of sexuality is punishable. Two teenagers in the church, Elisha and Ella Mae, are brought before the congregation to be chastised. They were not caught in the act of wrongdoing, but the pastor of the church, Father James, feels it necessary to curb any signs of budding attraction. He believes that with their spending time alone will corrupt them and “they would surely sin a sin beyond all forgiveness”(16). The fraternization between the opposite sex is prohibited unless through marriage. The conflict that Baldwin shows through this scene shows that although there was no crime committed, there are harsh consequences associated with the feelings of attraction, and those accused must be condemned by the society in which they live.
Baldwin shows that masturbation or even a nocturnal emission is a sin in this novel. The protagonist John reveals this early in the story, while thinking about his personal onanism, Baldwin writes: “In spite of the saints, his mother and his father, the warnings he heard from his earliest beginnings, he had sinned with his hands a sin that was hard to forgive”(18). Although it is his personal gratification with no other parties involved, that John feels supreme guilt about committing this act. In this way, Baldwin portrays a natural activity of sexuality as wicked and untenable.
Within Gabriel’s narrative there is a conflict in this ideology of sexuality as a sinful act. As a married preacher, Gabriel commits adultery with a carnal woman who does not share his religious convictions. It is during this sexual act that Gabriel feels “locked together; locked away from all others, all heavenly or human help. Only they could help each other”(143). Gabriel feels a sense of liberation of his doctrine and responsibility by the commission of unlawful intercourse. Gabriel feels free from his belief and isolated with his paramour. Baldwin shows the conflict further when Gabriel thinks of his life with Deborah and “the joyless groaning of their marriage bed; and he hated her.” (133). The emotion Gabriel displays for the same activity with his wife is abhorrence, which is in sharp contrast to the feelings about sex with his mistress.
Baldwin highlights the Christian principle of unlawful sexuality as iniquitous throughout the novel. Sex in any fashion is reprehensible and unholy. However, Baldwin also shows a degree of liberation when a Christian is dealing with a non-believer. It is at these times when sex can be celebratory and can provide momentary freedom from religious dogma.

Site Meter Who Links Here
eXTReMe Tracker