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Florence, Gabriel and Elizabeth regret the hasty actions they had taken in the past and feel bitter about the happenings that caused them anguish. Florence and Elizabeth desire justice from god, while Gabriel seeks the mercy of the lord to give him a better deal in life.
The three quotations below the prayers of Florence, Gabriel and Elizabeth expose their states of mind as they stand before the Lord. The quotation
Light and Life to all He brings
Risen with healing in His wings!
Throws light on the hope created in the heart of Florence as she surrenders herself to god.
Florence realizes that she had ignored god all this while and now, had come to Him to seek his blessings for peaceful days before her death. And god does give her relief by the end of the novel.
The quotation below Gabrielís Prayer is also significant.
Now I been introduced
To the Father and the Son,
And I ainít
No stranger now.
Gabriel remembers with anguish the death of his first born whom he considers as his real heir. He is unable to accept John as his own. Roy is his son but he is afraid the boy has turned against him. Gabriel understands his relationship with his sons and feels bitter about it. The readers also become aware of Gabriel and his legitimate sons in this chapter.
Elizabethís prayer is the last in this part of the novel and the quotation below the title reveals her state of mind.
Lord, I wish I had of died
In Egypt land!
These words explain the pain experienced by Elizabeth as she
remembers the past and wishes that Richard had lived to give her
moral support. Her life with Gabriel is stormy and she is concerned
about Johnís future.
Coming to the last part of the novel, the title "The Threshing Floor" is appropriate to the situation in which John finds himself. The threshing floor is a hard floor on which corns are beaten up before the chaff is removed from them. Johnís conscience also gets beaten up on the floor of the church, before he is rid of his sins and blessed by god. The epigraph following the title is also significant.
Then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone,
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I dwell in the midst of a people
Of unclean lips; for mine eyes have
Seen the King, the Lord of hosts.
These holy lines explain Johnís state of mind as he faces the Lord. He has fallen down on the floor and he is afraid he may not be able to get up because he is burdened with sins. He feels he is Ďuncleaní and god would punish him for it. Even when he visualizes the glow of god, he is too afraid to face Him. However, the divine force urges him to get up and walk towards his goal. The couplet before the start of this part describes his condition after he has been bestowed with the grace of god.
Then I buckled up my shoes,
And I started.
As soon as god enlightens him and infuses energy in him, he gets the strength to get up and start on his mission. John is reborn to spread the message of god. James Baldwin interestingly makes use of biblical quotations and hymns to highlight the condition of the characters and their states of mind. Symbols are used effectively through names and situations, to enhance the image and plight of the characters.