Aunt Florence In James Baldwin's Go Tell It On The Mountain

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It is often said that some wounds run too deep for healing. This quote holds true for Aunt Florence in James Baldwin’s novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain. In the case of Aunt Florence, her “wounds” were ingrained since she was a child; her mother neglected to attend to Florence’s needs and instead, cared only for Gabriel, Florence’s brother. To seek opportunities she wouldn’t have at home, she abandoned her dying mother and delinquent brother, traveling north. Although Aunt Florence is determined to make a stable income in the North, her progress is obstructed by the institutions of family, race, and religion; all of which has added to her resentment towards men, specifically Gabriel. Aunt Florence’s loathing stems from her youth and interactions …show more content…
Florence is oppressed by society due to her inability, as a woman, to find a job or go to college. It is the standard norm that women are viewed as possessions, child bearers, and submissive to the male, and it is society’s discrimination that instrumented Florence’s hardships in the North. The progress she was attracted to and left her sick mother for was obstructed once she fell in love with Frank. As a man, it was Frank who made the money and Florence who stayed at home. Though making the money was no problem, Frank’s issue came down to spending the money on useless items. While Florence hoped “they” could save enough money for a home, he “would take half a week’s wages and go out and buy something he wanted, or something he thought she wanted. He would come home on Saturday afternoons, already half drunk, with some useless object, such as a vase,” (Baldwin 79). With Frank, Florence’s aspirations stayed in a perpetual state of being; there was no progress to be made. As a woman, she was reliant on Frank’s potential to please her. Deep down, she understood that there was good in Frank, and was captivated by his charms. She believed she could change him, but in a man’s world, it was Florence that was supposed to change. Frank could not concede. After ten years of marriage, the tension broke and Frank left her, eventually going off to marry another woman. Baldwin describes her feelings as …show more content…
Florence’s attitude towards religion is stated as such, “Many of the stories her mother told meant nothing to Florence; she knew them for what they were, tales told by an old black woman in a cabin in the evening to distract her children from their cold and hunger,” (Baldwin 66). To her mother, religion is the central point to life, but to Florence, it’s just another recreation to keep busy with. This proves to be problematic for Florence as she grows up. It is shown from her relationship with Frank that Florence talks about God, but not to the point her mother is - Florence doesn’t go to church, nor pray often. God is a part of her life, but not prominent enough for her to take a full consideration of; she is at loose ends with religion. As Florence is slowly dying from disease, she must decide whether to die proud or plead God for mercy. Baldwin writes, “Now she was an old woman, and all alone, and she was going to die. And she had nothing for her battles. It had all come to this: she was on her face before the altar, crying to God for mercy,” (Baldwin 83). Though she tried to come to peace with God, her settlement was disturbed by the thought of Deborah and how Gabriel had wronged her. Florence once again became enveloped by the bitterness she held for Gabriel and ultimately, lost to her pride: “And the thought filled her with terror and rage; the tears dried on her face and the heart within

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