The Rockpile By James Baldwin Summary

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After reading the short story,“The RockPile”, by James Baldwin, it is found that a religious family lives in Harlem, and the father of the family enforces unfair penalties on his son John.
The short story opens with a brief description of the forbidden rock pile down the street. In fact, each Saturday morning, Roy and John perch themselves on the fire escape and watch the violent actions below them at the rock pile. Although Roy knows better than to go down to the rockpile, he decides to go. Roy eventually comes home with a gash above his eye and John gets the blame for Roy’s injury. Gabriel, Roy’s blood father, comes home and immediately John is scared for what punishments lie ahead. “Gabriel...stood enormous, in the center of the room...John stood just before him...beneath his fist, his heavy shoe” (Baldwin). Indeed, Elizabeth, Roy and John's mother, defends John from his father's unfair punishments because John is only treated unfairly because he is not Gabriel’s blood son, and he reflects
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Because Roy is Gabriel’s real son, Gabriel tenderly cares for Roy when he disobeyes the rules and gets hurt. “Hold still. hold still, crooned his father, shaking, “hold still. Don’t cry. Daddy ain’t going to hurt you, he just wants to see this bandage, see what they’ve done to this little man”(Baldwin). Unlike Roy, John is not Gabriel’s real son but rather a son from another man in Elizabeth’s past. For Gabriel, the presence of John is a constant reminder of the sinful person Elizabeth used to be. “Gabriel, ain’t no sense in trying to blame Johnnie. You know right well if you have trouble making Roy behave, he ain’t going to listen to his brother. He don’t hardly listen to me” (Baldwin). The conflict is finally resolved when Elizabeth defends her own son against Gabriel's unfair
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