An African Sermon The short story “An African Sermon”, written by Damon Gallup, was a very fascinating piece. What the author Is trying to do In this story Is give us a synopsis of what his opinion of human nature is. Throughout the story he gives different examples of his views and errors that human beings are prone to do. One of the first things that the author shows is a man who is racist. It is true that racism has decreased over the past few years, but the racial “Jokes” and rude remarks still remain. People will hold their valuables a little closer when an African American is near.
They will always watch out of the corner of their eye because they are suspicious of those who are different. This shows that human nature Is very Judgmental. People generally take a look at someone or listen to the first words that come out of their mouth and judge them completely on that one aspect. The old man first makes the Judgment based on the fact that the man black, so he will be trouble. Later on however the old man states “He’s all right. No trouble”, this proves that if you get to know somebody before you Judge them, they can turn out to be somebody completely different then you expected.
Everyone Is being Judged after they do anything. Mr.. Agates was Judged for being black, but the old man was judged just as quickly for making the remark that “he hoped that there would be no blacks”. Even Douglas, who was a priest, judged the old man for making this remark. Another point that Damon makes is that human beings are selfish and disrespectful. When Douglas Clarke changes the story that Mr.. Agates told him, he was only thinking about what the church would want to hear. He knew that even though there wasn’t a happy ending to the story that he had lust heard. E could change It to fit into the beliefs of his religion.
Mr.. Agates made it quite clear that he was not going to forgive his “brother”, but one of the main things taught in Christian religion is to forgive. Douglas changed the story to what he knew would make a better impact on the people the story was being told to. In a way he made it sound like he was the hero, because as far as the people at his church knew, he changed the mind of Mr. Agates. He taught him the way of the Lord and the path of forgiveness and so Mr.. Agates wasn’t “left hardhearted and full of hate”. In the end he “wept and forgave his brother and the path of Christianity wins again.
Human nature is shown in the story as naive also. Human beings are generally very trusting, which is odd because we all seem to lie. Douglas was sympathetic and naive toward Mr.. Agates. He believed his story without questioning and was there to try and help him. The fact that Douglas was a priest makes him more naive than most human beings. He believed that everyone would be honest with him and tell the truth because he works for God and since no one could Ill to Cod why would they lie to him? At the end of the story he realizes just how naive he was and that he is still human and can be lied to just as easily as anyone else.
A very important fact of human nature that is represented in this short story is that everyone still wants to be forgiving by someone. We are all born innocent but as we grow older, our Innocence Is taken over by sin. To be recognized as Innocent by someone Ana to not nave Eden corrupted In some Tort or another Is something Tanat is very important to humans. No one wants to be seen as “evil” and Mr.. Agates was intrigue by the idea that someone could see him as the victim for once instead of the arson that created a lot of the pain and suffering. Mr..
Agates throughout the story questions himself and doesn’t understand how he could have done those things. He states “What I think about, more than anything, is my brother. How he could have done that. To me, to my mother and father. ” He feels some sort of regret, which is another very important trait in human beings. He later states “l thought I knew him, but I didn’t. He was a stranger”, this proves that he feels that he doesn’t even know himself for what he did to his family and hundreds of other innocent people. He can’t think of a legitimately good reason why he did all those horrendous things.
Douglas suggests that “maybe he was afraid? “, but Mr.. Agates retorts back “Of what? Of being killed? That would have been a better choice”. In the story the author says that he said it “tonelessly’ and that he stated it as an “observation”. He was reflecting back on what he had done and wished that he had died instead of committing all of those murders. The point in the story where the author says he says it as “an observation” is foreshadowing what is to come. That hint is clear as you dead the story for a second time that he is observing that he should have done things differently.
The last point of human nature that Damon makes is that no matter how hard it is to forgive another person, it is even harder to forgive yourself. Even though Douglas kept telling Mr.. Agates that his “brother” could be forgiven, he didn’t believe it. Mr. Agates declares that “he has not been asked” for forgiveness. He knew that what he had done was wrong and he was not willing for anyone to forgive him, especially someone as powerful as God. He did not believe that someone such s himself, who had committing countless crimes, could be forgiven.
Mr. Agates then states “l do not forgive him”, this is proof that even if others forgave him, even if God forgave him. He could never forgive himself for what he had done. There are always two paths that we as humans can take. Unfortunately human beings are full of flaws whether it is greed, sinfulness, Judgment, naivety, hatefulness, dishonesty or all of the above. There is always good in people somewhere. Douglas relied on his faith to show him the path of righteousness, the old man was ashamed for his revises behavior of being Judgmental and even Mr. Agates showed some signs of remorse for what he had done.
Even when people are forgiven, they must still pay in some form for their crimes. Which is why, in the end Mr.. Agates was punished and was forced to return back to Rwanda to stand trial. Since there are two paths that we can take, it makes it quite difficult for us to always pick the right path. We are tempted to do things that are immoral, but have to try as best we can to stay away from temptation and prove the negative Judgments of human nature that were displayed by Damon Gallup wrong.