A Mountain To Climb Chapter 17: Without Any Help. Also, the Epilogue.

Last week Mrs. Lindsay had just given Arthur the green light to marry Pear. Why was she so opposed to the marriage? Why did everyone feel that Pearl had to choose between Arthur and a college degree? Now that Pearl has already made her choice, this is chapter where we finally get to find out. We also get to find out how Pearl is recovering.

This is the last chapter, and I have included the epilogue in this post, as it is not long enough to merit its own.

By the time Mrs. Lindsay had given her approval, Pearl’s recovery was nearly complete. She had mastered walking with crutches so well that she could go almost anywhere. Every once in a while she even tried bearing her weight on her left foot.

Was physical therapy a thing in 1930s Trinidad?

She asked for work to help with the rising expenses. She landed a job in the kitchen, where she could work sitting down.

Why can’t she work sitting down in the broom shop? Well nevermind, that’s a terrible idea. What rising expenses is Pearl referring to? Doctor Bills?

At noon on Friday a sack lunch was given each student for Friday supper and Sabbath breakfast. Pearl’s job was to fill the sacks.

This was a thing at the Academy I went to, except that we got our Sabbath breakfast at supper on Friday, the idea being to give the cafeteria staff a break for Sabbath. Which is a nice idea in theory, except that the sack breakfasts weren’t very filling. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I was expected to get through the long church services on cereal and milk, with a side of fruit. Yeah, right. I always hated this particular tradition….

In any case, we are told that Pearl stuffs special things into Arthur’s sabbath lunches, like an extra cookie. Which sounds sweet on the surface but to me it just reads like Arthur gets special treatment because he has a friend who works in the cafeteria.

I also wonder if this means that Pearl only works one day a week? If she is a bilingual secretary, don’t they have a nice office job they could put her in? Pearl is popular and well liked. These are the type of students that get office jobs. So it baffles me that Pearl doesn’t have one already.

One Friday a young Indian man, one of the students, stood near the counter watching her. Pearl had been conscious of his presence quite often in recent weeks, but she paid little attention to him.

I’m guessing Indian means “from India” in this context.

Finally, the Indian gentleman speaks to her.

“Like Ward, eh?” he finally said as Pearl closed Arthur’s sack. The young man inched his way around the counter. Pearl said nothing, but watched him closely.

When he was next to her, he said, “You marry me. I give you money. Ward no have money. I give you prettier children.”

This man is behaving in ways that are setting off all kinds of alarm bells. Pearl has every right to be upset, and even a little creeped out.

Pearl looked at him. “You get out of here,” she said, “or I’ll report you to the matron.”

Good for you, Pearl!

We never hear about this man again, so I assume that this is the last time he bothers her. Which would indicate that he accepts her “no” answer. Does that excuse his creepiness? No, but perhaps he did not mean to be creepy. Intentions, however, are not magical excuses, and at the very least he needs someone to tell him that this is not acceptable behavior.

Toward the close of the school year Pearl  needed a book Rosalind had. She had never tried to climb the long steep wooden stairs that led up to the front door of the women’s dorm. But she was sure she could make the climb. Just as she reached the top step, one of the students came out on the porch.

The student is amazed that Pearl made it up the steps, and tells her that Rosalind is right behind her. So Pearl turns around to go back down the stairs.

But on the 3rd step one of her crutches slipped, and she fell.

“God help me!” Rosalind yelled as she dropped her books and ran toward Pearl.

This is the kind of exclamation you use when the term “oh shit” would land you in detention.

Rosalind manages to catch Pearl before she falls.

“What are you trying to do, break your neck?” She asked.

Yes, because it would go so well with the broken foot.

Rosalind helps her up and takes her home.

It took several days of rest before Pearl was completely over the shock and was able to be about again.

Setbacks happen when you try to go too fast in recovery. I get it.

Time goes by, and then it’s time for Arthur to graduate.

Three boys made up the class of 1938, young men who felt very close to each other: Victor, Aaron, and Arthur Ward. Victor was the class president.

Dang! And I thought our academy class sizes were tiny! We actually do get last names for the other 2 boys, but I have omitted them.

After graduation, we are told that the boys go their separate ways over the break. Arthur is going to stay on campus for a while, probably because of Pearl. We are told that Pearl has been trying to keep their engagement a secret, because she wanted to announce it at a small party.

With a school this size, secrecy isn’t really possible. I guarantee you every single student already knows that Arthur and Pearl are engaged, or pre-engaged at the very least.

When Pearl goes to Mrs. Hamilton for advice, Mrs. Hamilton begs Pearl to let her plan the engagement party. Pearl means a lot to the faculty and students, and it would be her pleasure, really.

So Mrs.  Hamilton plans a party, and it all goes well. The announcements were baked into the cookies, and everyone congratulates Pearl.

When the party was over, Pearl felt at last that she and Arthur were officially engaged.

Yay.

Arthur goes to work in Barbados for 6 months, during which Pearl is staying behind at the school because….. I don’t know.

Pearl had appointed herself a task and was determined to accomplish it before Arthur returned in September for the wedding.

Oooooh wonder what this task would be?

She did not register for classes that year….the college would not permit her to be married during the school year if she were a student.

I spent the entire book wondering why Pearl had to choose. This is mentioned as an aside, a throw away line that we are not supposed to pay attention to. We are not supposed to notice that Arthur literally forced Pearl to choose between a real degree and a MRS degree.

Barf.

We are told that the weeks pass by slowly, as Pearl fills her hope chest.

As her wedding day crept ever closer, Pearl grew excited. She wished time would go by faster. But she still had her special task to complete before Arthur’s return.

“Practice, that’s what I need,” she told her mother.

“I think you’re doing very well.” Mrs. Lindsay [said]. “I’m sure you’ll succeed.”

“Thanks, Mother. You’re an encouragement.”

Who talks like this?

What is this special task that Pearl is practicing? I’m pretty sure we all know it, and I can’t honestly think why the author hasn’t just stated it. Trying to insert some dramatic suspense where there isn’t any, I guess.

Ms. Maxson really is trying, as a writer. And that’s what makes it all the more tragic.

The morning of September 26, 1939, the day of Pearl’s wedding, was one of those never to be forgotten mornings.

Does anyone forget their wedding day?

When the time came, Mrs. Smith played the wedding march. While Arthur waited at the front of the chapel for his bride, Pearl-her victory complete, walked down the aisle without any crutches.

The chapter, and the book, ends here. How inspiring. Yawn.

I am glad that Pearl was able to walk down the aisle without crutches, since it meant a lot to her to do so. But it is important to note that there isn’t anything wrong with having to use crutches–or even a wheelchair–to go down the aisle.

Epilogue

After the wedding, Pearl and Arthur head for Barbados. We are told that they served in “the ministry” for 11 years, some of which were during the war.

Oftentimes they had very little food, sometimes sharing one egg between them.

I know married women in that time and place weren’t supposed to work, but seriously, if you’re that desperate, was there anything wrong with Pearl taking at least a part time job? This doesn’t sound romantic to me, that sounds desperately poor.

Arthur and Pearl Ward had children: Roselyn, Cynthia, Reuel and Angela. We are told that the oldest child was born in the same hospital Pearl was in when her leg was dying.That must have prompted some residual trauma.

Arthur was eventually called to serve as treasurer for the South Caribbean Conference, headquartered in Trinidad. Eventually he became president of said conference.

While in Trinidad, Pearl worked 12 years for the Voice of Prophecy, part of the time as supervisor.

I have tried to google Arthur and Pearl Ward. I didn’t find much, until I found an article about their daughter, Roselyn. I’ll include it at the end of this blog post.

In 1966 Panama called, and Arthur responded. He became pastor of the English churches in the Panama conference, working on the Pacific coast. Here I met Pearl and Arthur and spent a delightful Sabbath in their home.

And heard the story of Pearl’s miraculous recovery, no doubt. I wonder if this is when the idea for this book was first born? Did she get all the details in one visit, or did Ms. Maxson and Pearl write a lot of letters?

Right after being told about the Sabbath she spent with Arthur and Pearl Ward, Maxson writes

In January 1970, Pearl made her last move–to the English district of Colon on the Atlantic Coast, where Arthur assumed pastoral responsibilities of the churches. Two weeks after the move Pearl became ill with a terminal disease that finally took her life on October 9.

Wait a second, hold on. What was the publication date on this, again?

Originally published in 1976

Pearl died 6 years before this book was published?

This brings up some really important questions: Did Pearl even know Ms. Maxson was writing this book? How much exactly was her contribution to it? It’s possible the book took more than 6 years to write, and that Maxson and Mrs. Ward sent a lot of letters back and forth to each other. And Arthur no doubt contributed quite a bit of material. But the fact that this goes unmentioned makes me wonder exactly how much of this book is what Pearl actually thought and felt, and how much is the author’s creative license. And if I have to ask that, then is it also fair to assume the medical details of Pearl’s trauma would a little bit off?

I also wonder just how long Pearl’s life was. If she was in her early 20s in the late 1930s… let’s put her at 25 in 1938, give or take a year. That would put her birth year at approximately 1913, maybe a little earlier. That would put Pearl at roughly 57 at the time of her death, give or take a few years. This woman did not live a very long life, even by the standards of the 1930s.

We are then told that Pearl Ward worked for The Voice of Prophecy  for a long time, during which she created better ways to manage things. But that’s not as important as the fact that all her children are “workers for God.”

Roselyn, with a master’s degree in music, heads the music department at Centro Adventista De Estudios Superiores in Costa Rica.

I’m sure that was true at the time of this writing. Here’s some more current information on Roselyn, who appears to still be alive.

Cynthia is a secretary at Caribbean Union College in Trinidad. Reuel is an accountant at Centro Educacional Adventista in Honduras. Angela, the youngest, is a student in the academy section of Caribbean Union College.

I have been unable to find anything about the other children, with the possible exception of Reuel. I can not watch videos with my shitty internet, but I might have found a video about him on Youtube.

The book ends with a quote from Arthur talking about how much Pearl meant to him and the family. It’s very sweet and heartfelt.

And that’s it. That’s the end of the book. So, my personal closing thoughts.

Ms. Maxon shows a mustard seed sized grain of talent in her writing. She seems to have a sense of pacing, and a good sense of when to switch from Arthur’s perspective to Pearl’s. The dialogue in the book wasn’t terrible either, for the most part. It could have been better, but I have absolutely read worse.

I have been listening, of course, to the Seventh-Day Atheist  podcast. One of the things the two women who run it talk about is how limiting Adventism is. Adventism encourages one to develop their talents–but not too much, and only in a way that is acceptable to them. One of the women is a writer, and she talks specifically about how she felt her writing was limited severely by her Adventist upbringing. Her words made my eyes tear up, because I can relate to everything. My writing was absolutely not encouraged, and in some cases actually discouraged, unless I wrote something that glorified God.

The women of the podcast compare this to bonsai plants. A bonsai tree is like a miniature version of a real tree. It’s allowed to grow, but only in the confines of this teeny little pot. People limited by Adventism are what they call “bonsai humans.” Stunted versions of what we could have been.

I absolutely agree that I am, in some ways, a bonsai human.  I can absolutely say the same for Ms. Maxwell. She could have been a really talented really good writer who wrote some books that maybe weren’t bestsellers, but decent writing, nonetheless.

Instead she was a stunted little bonsai writer who wrote shitty ass books glorifying a monster god, portrayed some shitty ass incompetent doctors without calling them out on it, and used what little talent she had to damage the people who read her books.

Because yes, her book did cause damage. How did it do that? Well, that’s what next week’s post is about. Next week S has asked to do a guest post, wherein she will talk about exactly how this book affected her. Even if you have not been following this series of posts, I encourage you to read her review of this. Because it’s important to see how people were impacted personally by books such as these.

 

 

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