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Part Two is rightly entitled "Prayer of the Saints." Three of the principal characters in the novel echo the prayers of the saints to redeem their life. First section of Part two deals with the prayer of Florence. The couplet below the title of this section aptly describes the feelings of Johnís aunt. Florence desires godís mercy to cure her of her physical ailment for
Light and Life to all He brings
Risen with healing in His wings.
All these days, Florence had thwarted god since her heart was filled with bitterness. Life had been a struggle for her and she had never got what she deserved in life. As a child, she had lost out on childhood. When she was hardly five, her mother had given birth to Gabriel and tied her down to the house. Florence had to look after Gabriel and the house, while her mother was away at work. Gabriel was given the best of food and clothes and sent to school because he was a male child, while she was denied education and fun, because she was a girl. Gabriel had misused his rights. He would often miss school and fool around with his friends. Neighbours complained about his behaviour and his mother punished him but Gabriel never improved. In fact, he became worse as he grew up.
At the age of twelve, Gabriel was baptized much against his wish. Her mother believed it would purge the boy of his sins. For the ceremony, when he was thrown into the water, he had raised a hue and cry, even as the holy song was sung. Florence had hated him then and also on the occasion when he had come home drunk. In fact, she had started hating all men especially those who lusted for her because she was beautiful. And at the age of twenty-six, her white master had asked her to be his concubine. That was the turning point of her life. She had left home, turning away from her responsibilities towards her mother and leaving the burden on Gabrielís unsure shoulders.
New York and marriage brought Florence no joy. She had married Frank because she felt he understood her feelings but she was greatly disappointed. Though he loved her and earned a living to take care of her, he wasted all his money on drinks and useless expenditure. She had very little to run the house. She had tried her best to reform him but it did not help. She had married in order to gain a companion and friend but Frank proved to be a burden. Thus, she had got separated from him and started leading a lonely life once again.
Life had played a cruel joke on her and she had turned bitter towards god who had failed to give her security. She had felt cheated in life. Gabriel who had indulged in all kinds of vices was leading a respectable life and enjoying the company of his family, while she who had stood by her principles and acted on her conscience, was left to lead a miserable life. Gabriel had deprived her of a normal life and she wanted to expose his hypocrisy. She had proof of his dubious past and wanted to confront him about it. Her heart desires to rip off his mask but her body is weak. She feels helpless.
Section one of Part two throws light on the social problems confronting the Negroes. The black Americans are suppressed by the Whites and discriminated by them. This creates insecurity and tension in the life of the Negroes. This is what had happened to Bathsheba, Gabrielís mother, Gabriel and Florence. They live in fear The white Americans exploited the Negroes especially their women and left them to lead miserable lives. Deborah had been raped by a White man and condemned by her society. All those who eyed her looked at her with lust. Florence had also become a target of menís evil eyes. All along she had ignored their lewd behaviour. However, when her White master asks her to become his mistress, she is able to take it no more. She leaves for New York to lead a respectable life but she has very little luck. Being black, she has little chance to remain dignified and spend her days in comfort.
Insecurity makes most of the Black men take to drinking and womanizing.
Gabriel forms bad company and indulges in shameful pastimes because he
has no father figure to guide him and give him confidence. He becomes
responsible only when Florence leaves home. Necessity makes him face reality
and act respectably. However, he strays from the chosen path, commits
a sin and betrays the trust of Deborah, even after donning the mantle
The life story of Florence is pathetic. She sacrifices her childhood for Gabriel and her mother, ruins her youth working for the Whites and living with a drunkard, lives her middle years in loneliness and misery. Her life is painful and wasted.