Part of Baldwin's genius is in showing the inner lives of characters that are faced with and often fall into the same ways of living. Baldwin differentiates his characters by showing their internal thought processes as they face their trials. For example: Gabriel has an affair with Esther out of pure lust and attraction; he feels guilt over falling into temptation and refuses the son that was the product of the affair (though he experiences turmoil over his decision to refuse him). That son dies through racial violence. Elizabeth, on the other hand, also has an affair--but out of love with the deeply tormented Richard, who commits suicide over the racism he experienced. Elizabeth can't bring herself to say that she regrets it or that she wouldn't do it again if she could; she loves John and refuses to apologize for him. John, though not Gabriel's biological son, ends up being the ideal Christian son.