|Oct/Nov 2018 • Miscellaneous|
What is that curtain of yellow in the back of the classroom?
That is the wall of yellow raincoats dripping from hooks.
And what are the lumpish, shiny black things beneath them?
Those are the children's black rubber galoshes with four metal buckles each.
Why has Mr. Simons, the janitor, come into the classroom?
Mr. Simons has come in with his mop and bucket to mop up the trail of water from the door to the back of the room where the yellow raincoats hang above the shiny black galoshes.
Why is it so dark in the classroom?
The classroom is unusually dark because the power has gone out due to the storm outside, which is pelting the red and brown and yellow leaves from the trees.
Why are the children frightened?
The children are frightened because this is their first hurricane and they know that a tree was knocked down early this morning in front of Roger McClintock's house.
Why else are the children frightened?
The children are also frightened because they believe the power outage may be part of an attack by the communist Russians who want to destroy America.
Who has told the children that the communist Russians want to destroy America?
Sister Aloysius, the wimpled nun in the front of the room, has told the children that the communist Russians want to destroy America.
What else has Sister Aloysius told the children?
Sister Aloysius has painted pictures in the children's minds of communist soldiers asking them to deny their Catholic faith on pain of being bayoneted.
And what are the children expected to do in this situation?
The children are expected to defend their faith heroically, to die without betraying Christ, and thus to win a place in heaven.
What will happen to the children if they fail to defend their faith, if they deny their Catholicism and their Lord in order to preserve their lives?
The children have been told, by the wimpled nun in the front of the room, that if they fail to defend their faith, if they deny Christ, they will go to hell, eternally damned.
And has the nun told them of St. Peter, who denied Christ three times in one night, and nevertheless was chosen to be the first leader of the church?
No, the nun has not told them this part of the story of St. Peter.
What has the nun told them about children who are not Catholics?
The nun has told them that those who are not Catholics, no matter how good their lives, will be forever denied entrance to heaven, though they may be permitted to join the unbaptized innocents in Limbo.
And what has the nun told them about the communists?
The nun has told them that the communists will burn in hell for eternity because they deny God.
What do the children think of these teachings?
Although the children accept the teachings about the communists, having been prepared for these teachings by first being taught to fear the communists, some of them feel that the harsh treatment of good people who did not have the good fortune to be baptized and made Catholics is unfair.
Do they have friends who are not Catholics?
Yes, they have friends who are not Catholics; there is even a non-Catholic boy in the classroom, and the children feel embarrassed when the nun teaches that he and his parents will not gain admission to heaven.
What has caused all heads to turn suddenly toward the tall, heavy windows on the left hand side of the classroom?
A flash of lightning and immediate loud crash of thunder has caused all heads to turn toward the tall heavy windows on the left hand side of the classroom, where the rain is splattering against the windowpanes.
What do the children see when they try to look through the windows?
Trying to look through the rain-streaked windows the children see a dark blurry world, gray and autumnal, brightened momentarily by flashes of lightning as if by bombs, as in the war movies they have seen on television.
And what happens to bring their attention back into the classroom?
Their attention is brought back into the classroom when the lights suddenly come back on, illuminating the frieze of decorations around the walls above the blackboards: Pilgrims' hats, pumpkins, sheaves of wheat, bundles of Indian corn. The yellow raincoats gleam in the back of the room above the black galoshes with four metal buckles each. The nun's bright white wimple contrasts starkly with her black habit and veil.
What does Sister Aloysius say now that the light has been restored?
Sister Aloysius says, "Now, children, let us say a prayer to give thanks that the light has been restored, to thank Almighty God, and to thank the brave men who are risking their lives out in the storm to repair the electrical lines. Repeat after me, 'Thanks be to God...'"