Many forces illustrate how a person behaves. These influences can be self-inflicted or a product of an outside or uncontrollable force. Breaking down what shapes a person's character can be a very intricate process. The many elements that affect the identity of John Grimes can be observed in the book Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin. Through viewing all the related forces, one can see why John is a person who hates his father, but at the same time longs for his love and acceptance.
One of the things the reader discovers about John is his biological father is dead and he does not know it. As John's mother prays in church, the author reviews her memories of John's real father, "[Elizabeth] sat curled. at the edge of the bed,. It was then she decided not to tell [Richard] yet about [his child John]. .That night [Richard] cut his wrists with his razor and he was found. dead among the scarlet sheets." Elizabeth never tells John this because, like any mother would, she wants her current husband to love John as if he were his own and keep the house a loving place to live. This, is not the case, though. If Elizabeth would tell John who his natural father is, this may relieve his mind and he would at least understand why Gabriel does not show him the love that he wants.
Even though John does not receive the desired love from Gabriel, he tries to follow in his religious footsteps anyway. John has a strong sense of religious faith, for someone so young. He is even terrified of sin and feels he needs to go to church and pray to God after he had "sinned his hand" in the school bathroom. John almost feels as if he has to follow his father's religious path as a way to win his fondness. This gives him mixed feelings about religion as well, "John's heart was hardened against the Lord. His father was God's minister. and John could not bow before the throne of grace without first kneeling to his father".