“the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked”

In class we discussed at length the passage of John contemplating his sin of masturbating to older boys in the school bathroom (16). After reading Field’s piece on Baldwin and his religion, as well as trying to find connections between the bible and Baldwin’s text, I noticed another element to the scene that didn’t initially catch my attention. When John is recalling his transgression, he is waking up in his bed. On a typical morning, the house would be filled with the sounds of “his mother singing in the kitchen,” his father “muttering prayers to himself,” pots and pans, the radio, and “folk near by.” But on this day, nothing could “disturb the silence”–a theme that emerges continuously throughout the novel. In this moment, the silence is leaving him alone “with his sinful body,” making him keenly aware of his transgression. In the bible, when Adam and Eve commit the sin of eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad, they become aware that they are naked, and with this awareness comes overwhelming shame, guilt, and the need to hide from God so as to not feel exposed for what they have done and their nakedness: “…she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves” (Genesis 3:6-7). I feel as though this scene in John’s room resounds some of this imagery. His eyes were opened in a figurative sense, as designated by the silence making his awareness of his body and his sin inescapable. God could be comparable to the inescapable silence as he is omnipotent and omnipresent, and sudden awareness of Adam and Eve of their nakedness could be comparable to John’s awareness of his body. 

Field describes nakedness in Go Tell It on the Mountain as “both foul and terrifying” (452). Though John was not necessarily naked in this scene, he seems bare to some extent. 

I’m not sure if this connection is fully there, but this is just something I have been thinking about.