In the reading of a short synopsis of The Sisters from John H. Rogers Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 162: British Short-Fiction Writers I was introduced to a whole new idea that complements what I had thought about the short story myself. After a brief summary of the story, the author goes on to introduce a discussion of the themes of the story by saying, “‘The Sisters’ is largely a story of the initiation of a young boy into the adult world.” The author also described how the main character felt a feeling of freedom from the death of Father Flynn. I found that this idea goes very well with the issues of faith that I noticed when I read the story.
Faith, it would seem, is tested most often in times of adversity and times of trouble. It wouldn’t very common for a perfectly happy person to turn to religion or God for help, it seems that more often the person in hard times discovers their faith or a person who was faithful and had their faith tested by hard times. What I saw as disbelief or failure for the main character to accept the truth, the author of the synopsis saw as a first feeling of freedom. “But the truth of the situation is that the boy feels not loss, but freedom; the forms he has been taught simply do not account for the feelings he experiences.” Even when the boy sees Father Flynn dead, the encounter is described by John Rogers as one of indifference, “In the face of such talk the boy just sits silently, listening to everything.” What I saw as shock bewilderment, or a failure to accept the death, Rogers saw as a liberation, a mixture of happiness for the boy in the midst of a sad moment.
The feelings of the boy really hinge on his sentiments right at the beginning of the story. Rogers would probably argue that because there is an expectation of the boy that Father Flynn was going to die, he was checking for a certain sight in the Father’s window to know that he was dead, that the main character was expecting the death. I would say that because the boy didn’t see that certain sight (the candlelight through the curtains), he had no idea that the Father was dead because he hadn’t seen any proof with his own eyes, so his initial feeling was indeed a feeling of disbelief. Either way, the issue is one of faith. If indeed the boy had expected the death of Father Flynn and did indeed feel liberated because of the death, then that would be a loss of faith on the part of the main character. Part of religion and faith is deciding what to believe, in one instance the boy may decide to feel liberated by Father Flynn’s passing. In the way I interpreted the story, I thought the boy was faced with deciding whether or not Father Flynn was dead, and in believing, with or without seeing proof, if the news of the death was true. In either case, the boy is faced with a decision, whether or not Father Flynn is dead, and also how he wants to react to that death.