Perhaps it's uncharitable of me, but I was astonished at how well Baldwin wrote the women in this book. The stories of Johnny's aunt and mother and other women they knew were unbelievably powerful and somewhat devastating. For its bitterly insightful portrayal of black women's experience, the novel deserves to be a feminist classic.
Although the book often, I think, gets read as an indictment of Christianity, I don't think that's quite right. Certainly, it's a pretty harsh critique of the church - especially as institution, but also as this force that essentially serves to further humiliate and degrade people who already have it pretty rough - but I don't think that's the entire story. There's also a kind of acknowledgement of its ability to raise people up, a transformative power of faith. What is more, a large part of the novel's force derives from a rhetoric that is undeniably indebted to religion.
Overall - pretty intense stuff. Baldwin hasn't let me down yet.