Study Guide

Go Tell It on the Mountain Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

By James Baldwin

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Anticipation Stage and "Call"

In Go Tell It on the Mountain, we're going ahead and naming Gabriel as the monster. He's the big, bad dad who beats everyone and rules with an iron fist, and he starts creeping into John's thoughts long before we ever see him.

When John gets home from the movies and finds out that his brother has been hurt, he knows before he walks into the house that he's going to have to deal with Gabriel's wrath. Get ready, folks.

Dream Stage

After an initial confrontation with Gabriel in the living room, John gets out of the house again and goes to church, where he has fun wrestling with Elisha and is free from his parents for a while. Basically, he gets a breather before the battle royale.

Frustration Stage

Uh-oh. Here comes trouble. Gabriel, Elizabeth, and Florence walk into the church, and through their flashbacks we find out what a terror Gabriel really is. After we learn that Gabriel is actually John's stepfather (and how much he hates John!), it's clear that if John is saved tonight, Gabriel will not be happy.

John stands up, almost overcome, and Gabriel controls him with his mind, making him kneel again.

Nightmare Stage

The final ordeal is a doozy. John, in his religious ecstasy, travels through all kinds of nightmarish visions, most of which involve Gabriel trying to kill him. He really doesn't believe that he can make it through the darkness, even though he hears the voices of the church members praying him through.

The Thrilling Escape from Death, and The Death of The Monster

Our boy Johnny makes it to the other side and comes out saved, washed in the blood of Jesus. He is now on a level playing field with Gabriel, who can't control him anymore. Well, actually, John is still only fourteen and still has to live with Gabriel, so this basic plot doesn't get the nice resolution we were hoping for. No death of the monster here, but at least John escaped this time.