In the novel " Saint Maybe", by Anne Tyler, the church, led
by Rev. Emmett, acts much like a psychologist, helping
people get over their guilt. Ian, the main character of the
story is involved in a horrible act and needs to find a way
to forgive himself for it. With the help of Rev. Emmett and
the rules he decrees, Ian is able to overcome his great
In the beginning of the story, Ian is guilty of leading his
brother to commit suicide. While the two are in the car
together, Ian tells his brother, Danny, that his wife,
Lucy, is cheating on him. When Ian leaves the car, Danny
proceeds to drive straight into a wall, killing himself.
Later on in the story, Lucy (it is not sure if she did it
on purpose or not) overdoses on sleeping pills, also
killing herself. Their three children are left (two from a
previous marriage) and their legal guardians are unknown.
Ian then feels guilty of both their deaths, and the fact
that his mother, Bee, is stuck taking care of the kids even
though she really doesn't have the energy to do so.
Then one January night, Ian walks into the Church of the
Second Chance. Just the name of the church fits Ian's needs
perfectly. After prayers he has a talk with Rev. Emmett.
During this conversation he admits his wrong doings. This
is the first step of getting over one's guilt. Then when
Ian thinks that he is forgiven already for his sin, Rev.
Emmett tells him "You have to offer reparation-concrete,
practical reparation, according to the rules of our
church." They agree that the way he should go about doing
this is by dropping out of college to help his ailing
parents take care of the young children. In this manner
although it seems he is appeasing God, in truth he is doing
this for himself-to rid of his guilt. In fact he admits it
later in the story. While he is talking about how the
church saved his life he says "Things I did wrong, things I
said wrong, mistakes I want to take back. And I always
wonder, If I didn't have Someone to turn this all over to,
how would I get through this?"
In this story we see how the Church saved Ian's life. It
helped him get over the horrible guilt of feeling
responsible in the death of a loved one. This did the job
of a psychologist by identifying the problem and then
helping the patient get over it.
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