Part One- The Seventh Day: 1. Summary- The story starts by introducing the active role of church in John's and his family's life. Various activities occur on Sunday in church, such as school, hymns, and preaching. On the morning of his birthday, he wakes up to lay in bed, pondering on his past birthdays and events. He falls asleep to wake up late and head to breakfast. Roy's hardheaded personality is introduced here through an argument with his mother.
The argument was based on their father, and his abusive behavior. After breakfast, John is assigned to sweep the front room, which is just one of his many labors around the house. He takes a pause to think of what kind of birthday this is, where no one even remembers it. But his mother comes through and gives him some change to get a gift for himself, so he runs out to the city. On his way there, rage fills him and he daydreams about the white folk in the city looking at him with respect. Respect of him because he " ll own the city.
Reality strikes him and he realizes that the people don't even notice him. After using the money for a movie, he arrives back at home finding out that Roy had been in an incident. His father, aunt, and mother have a dispute and then the next day John heads to church early to open up and clean up. Him and Elisha (a brother and preacher of the church) have a talk.
John is told to think about being saved, just as Elisha had been saved. Part Two- The Prayers of the Saints: Florence's Prayers 1. Summary- This next chapter focuses on John's aunt, Florence. It begins with Florence at church, she is sorry for her sin yet doesn't remember how to pray. A few nights before, she had received a threatening message repeatedly and even saw death.
The story then jumps back to her youth, where she worked as a servant-girl. She lived with her mother and younger brother, Gabriel. Florence had been a child hood friend with John's mother, Deborah. Gabriel would be the 'apple of her [his mother] eyes'; ; he would be sent to school, fed more, and treated more specially. For this reason, Florence would resent her brother; she wanted to learn far more than her brother ever did.
The story jumps back to John and what he sees in church for a brief moment, then goes in to talk about Florence's husband, Frank. He's the alcoholic type that would waste all his money on useless items. Florence did not seem to have a good relationship with him for the 10+ years they were married. One incident was described where Frank spent his paycheck to shop for the groceries. He bought whiskey for himself, an un plucked chicken with it's head still on, and 5 pounds of coffee, which was all obviously useless. These types of incidents occurred quite often, but Florence had enough of it when Frank did not return home for 3 days.
They had a big argument, which resulted in Frank leaving her for another woman in France. Florence was informed by that woman that Frank died in a war. This chapter closes with Florence thinking, she had a letter that could bring Gabrielle down, she was thinking about when to use it against him. Gabriel's Prayer 1. Summary- This chapter begins from the viewpoint of Gabriel's mother. She is very worried as she waits for her son to return home.
While Gabriel was out and about the city, he met this young lady, and due to his assumption of alcohol, he had sex with her. Later that night, Gabriel sits to contemplate his wrongdoing. After mixed emotions went through his mind, he ended up asking the lord for forgiveness. I believe this was the turning point of his life as he saw the way of the lord. But now the story jumps to when he is 21 years of age and is currently a preacher. On a sad note, his mother had died, but that is off set by meeting a woman whom he fell in love with, Deborah.
Later, he receives an invitation to the Twenty-Four Elders Revival Meeting, which is an honor for him. This was an event that would go through 24 preachers; he was the 12th speaker. This was a good night to speak because he would be in the middle, if he did poorly, the 12 preachers after him will recover. The night in which he was to speak, anxiety and nervousness overwhelmed him, but with help from the presence of Deborah and of course God, he delivered an inspiring and profound sermon. The elders were impressed and even invited him to dinner that night. At the dinner table, an elder made a comment that offended Gabriel because it concerned his wife.
It seemed as if a big scene would be inevitable, but things settle down as quickly as they arose. Mentioned in this chapter, is Esther. Gabriel had slept with this woman and is now trying to help her and her mother. They are invited to his sermon and there he attempts to speak with her mother. After begging (exaggerated) that Esther to be set straight and away from a life of sin, he finds out that Esther's mother is stubborn old mule (once again exaggerated). He soon finds out that Esther has his baby in her.
To avoid conflicts, he gives her his savings to support his son. Unfortunately, Esther died while giving birth to Royal, their son. Royal was sent to live with a relative of Esther and four years later, he receives a visit from his father, Gabriel. Gabriel talks about life in Chicago and informs him to be careful.
Another misfortune occurs, Gabriel's son Royal died after Gabriel returned. This chapter ends with John's eyes gazing at Elisha in astonishment, and then John is told to sit down. Elizabeth's Prayer Summary- The subject of this chapter is Elizabeth and her past. It begins in her childhood, where her mother neglected her by not caring or showing any affection for Elizabeth. Her mother would constantly be upset with her and could never be satisfied by Elizabeth. On the other hand, she loved and adored her father, who loved her and treated her specially.
One dreary day, her mother became fairly ill and passed away. In court, Elizabeth's aunt gained custody of Elizabeth rather than her father taking care of her. Her aunt was just like her mother, neither would love or show affection to Elizabeth. The story then jumps to the time where she met Richard, the man she would fall in love with. The scene was set at the super market, where Elizabeth would be working as cashier. Richard was just shopping and soon they talked.
After falling in love, they moved up north together and both got jobs. During this time, Elizabeth would stay with her aunt, although she was at the age where she could make her own decisions. Richard was put in prison after being framed for robbery and was soon released. But at this point, he was too depressed with life and stressed all the racism he felt. This resulted in suicide. Once again the book jumps, this time to when Florence would feel sorry for Elizabeth for her hard times.
Then as Elizabeth goes through her past miseries, she hears a cry. It is John, on the threshing floor. She looks up and sees John lay astonished beneath the power of the lord. Part Three- The Threshing Floor 1. Summary- This would definitely be the most confusing chapter of the book. From what I read, it seems that John is on the threshing floor with all these emotions and events going through his head.
At first he hears voices, but it's confusing to tell whom it is coming from. The second set of voices came from above that sounds like his family. As John cries for help, his father comes to the rescue. The assistance is rejected because john does not want to be like his father. Then his father attempts to lead him up the road, but John resists.
John thinks for a while and found out how the devil is toying with John. Elisha comes to the rescue by talking with John. This talk raised John's faith and found his place before the Lord. His mother is happy and smiles, but yet John wants to make sure no one forgets. He tells Elisha, that no matter what happens, he was saved. He explains how he went to the valley and was saved.
Elisha tells him that God won't forget him, and leaves him with a kiss on the forehead. The story ends with a picture perfect scene with the sun out and all. But yet, his father does not smile at John when smiled at him, that is one thing I don't understand about the ending..