Literary Precedents for Juneteenth

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Probably because Christianity is central to this novel, Ellison drew upon Biblical stories. For example, the relationship between Hickman and Bliss seems to reflect that of Abraham and Isaac. Just as Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son to do God's will, so Hickman symbolically sacrifices his foster son each time he places the boy in his white coffin. Moreover, there is a parallel between Bliss and Samuel, the Old Testament judge. Hickman sees Bliss as a similar gift from God but also a child dedicated to God's service.

Certainly the career of Bliss/Sunraider appears to be an inversion of the New Testament account of St. Paul. In contrast to the former persecutor who became an apostle and a major force in early Christian evangelism, Bliss is the preacher turned apostate, a prime example of the destructive force of selfishness, vanity, and the thirst for personal power...

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This section contains 821 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Juneteenth Study Guide
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Novels for Students
Juneteenth from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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