Can’t, I’m an altar boy



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Doubt

Jim – stopped by to say hi to older neighbor. Was asked to buy cigarettes and newspaper. “Can’t, I’m an altar boy.” After sermon, looked upward and saw bird. Jim? Saw Donald talking to Sister James.
Donald - Black Boy –


  • asked if he thought he was fat.

  • Came to see the father after the sermon. Father washing face. Donald told the Father he wanted to be a priest. Father showed him a ballerina and a mirror. The mirror made the ballerina dance.

  • Watching the father from the staircase when Jim asked about practice after school.

  • Was called out of the Sister James’ class to the rectory by an intercom.

  • Was seated next to Father when eating cookies and drink and talking about the dance.

  • Cried when the Father said he was leaving.



Father

  • pacing at beginning of the movie. As boy walked by, he looked up and quickly looked back down.

  • Topic of sermon – doubt. He then spoke of Kennedy’s assignation. “A feeling of hopelessness….despair. In it together. How is that different than despair felt in private?”No one knows I’ve done something wrong. Isolation. Doubt can be as powerful and sustaining as certainty. When you are lost, you are not along.

  • Gave Jim the ballerina and mirror and smiled after Jim left.

  • While waiting to go into the school. Father said, “Good morning champ.” To Jim. To Landon, did you wash your hands? Not same color of your neck. Other children laughed.
  • Called the older sister a dragon in front of Sister James, when she called the boy up to talk to him about touching.


  • Coaching basketball – you know what’s funny; you never get a foul shot. Talked to boys about dirty nails – cleanliness. Look at my nails – they’re long. I like them long. He stopped in front of Landon when showing his nails.

  • Had cookies and milk with boys. “What do you do if no girl says yes to you? Become a priest.”

  • Dinner scene with other males – laughing and joking about a fat woman.

  • Saw boy on bench – tapped leg – what are you doing out of class. He talked in class. “Waiting for sister Aloysius?”

  • Sat at older sister’s desk when they met. He asked for three sugars. “Jolly to include a secular song in the pageant.” Took notes in front of the older sister – intolerance. Suggested the church should change – like we are members of their family. Suggested ice cream and camping. When told to not make a spectacle of Donald – he should be treated like every other boy. He said he was uncomfortable with the conversation and objected with her tone.

  • Sermon about a woman who gossiped about a man she hardly knew. Called her ignorant and should be ashamed. Story of feathers from a cut pillow and told her to go and pick them all up.

  • Younger sister looked over her shoulder at the older sister. Later spoke to younger sister about the bird in the yard. “You seem subdued.” He smoked in front of the younger sister. Told her to see her sick brother. Said he cared about Donald and not the older sister. He needs help, that’s why he drinks. I care about this congregation like you care about this class. There are people who go after your humanity… that the light in your eyes is weakness. Cruel people…… He spoke about love of people. He showed the younger sister flowers in his bible – to remind me of spring.
  • He encouraged a girl to tell Jimmy that she liked him.


  • He smiled back at Donald and walked away. Donald seemed sad about that. He came back and hugged Donald when someone had torn things out of his hand and stomped on the ballerina.

  • Came to ask why there was a meeting with Donald’s mom. He ignored rules to have a third party presentand asked her to stop attacking his character. He faced the older sister. He yelled at her and the light went out. What did you see or hear that made you so sure? (She said, what does it matter?) He sat at her desk and said he was writing all that she said in case he had to have her removed.

  • He gave a final sermon – wind behind us – don’t even know its purpose but that wind is taking me away. I will miss you. Might be I am content that the wind behind me has superior knowledge and knows best. He came down among them and said good bye.


Young sister

  • sneezed and seemed pensive.

  • Helped elderly sister down hallway.

  • Particular about dressing.

  • Good morning Father, it’s a beautiful day. Smiled when Father told her the older sister was a dragon.

  • Led the choir with a smile. Looked back at other sisters and smiled.

  • Took fat out of her mouth and put back when older sister looked at her.

  • Saw Father in a locker and smiled. She thought that was suspicious and checked the locker. She found what looked like a shirt and put it back.

  • Was talking to Donald and asked if he was alright.
  • Spoke to older sister about him not having many friends. Said Father had taken an interest in Donald. Was questioned by the older sister – and told her that the Father called him to the rectory during class. Believed Donald acted different when he returned from the meeting with the father. Believed there was alcohol on his breath.


  • Acted scared at night with wind blowing.

  • Told Father she had a hard time sleeping and asked if his sermon was directed at anyone in particular. She said she couldn’t leave her class when told to go visit her sick brother. She asked the Father if it was true and why did you put the shirt in the locker. (He said, to keep him from further embarrassment.)

  • When the classed laughed at her, she yelled and asked the question again. She called on Donald because he was looking out of the window. She made him stand up. Apologized to Jimmy for yelling at him.


Sister Aloysius Beauvier (means saint or angel)

  • stood up during the sermon and told a young girl to turn around. Slapped a boy on the back of the head due to talking during the sermon. Boy was asleep. Shel told him to straighten.

  • Called Landon who touched arm of Sister James.

  • When she walked in the classroom, all students stood. She called a student by her name and told her to take the barrette out. Caught boy with wire coming out of his ear – you come with me boy.

  • As children are singing, she looks up in air.

  • Helped an older sister find her fork.

  • Stared at Sister James when she took fat out of her mouth. At the dinner table, asked the other sisters what they thought the sermon was about. She asked why he spoke on doubt.”He’s my superior and if he was troubled, he should share it with the mount senior. “I want you all to be alert, I’m concerned about matters in the st. Nicholas school.

  • Took a pill at lunch.

  • She sent the boy – Landon - home. She accused him of giving himself a nosebleed.
  • Helps the older sister clean her sleeve – said she was going blind. Asked Sister James to keep her steady or she the old lady would be gone.


  • Searched Sister James’ desk. Threw cough drops away calling them candy. Asked why more referrals were not sent down – are you keeping control.

  • Saw Father talking to higher priest outside the window.

  • Particular about ball point pens being used. When they press down, they write like monkeys(this is a reference to the Father since he used a pen to write notes about her). Use the glass to look behind you. “Only to the one’s that would be up to no good. Asked if Donald had been hit? Said it was a school with Italians and Irish. When told Father had taken an interest in Donald – so, it’s happened. Asked Sister James what she had seen? When told the Father (it’s my job to outshine the fox in cleverness) met with Donald alone. Told Sister James a story about other fathers. “Men run everything.”

  • Metaphor – it takes a cat to catch a mouse.

  • Got tea for ailing sister. The world is crashing, the wind is changed.
  • Greeted Father with, “Nice for you to stop by.” When speaking to the boy who was in trouble. She asked if he heard the wind. Lied when Father asked if her sight was okay. “I’m beginning to believe your punching people to the younger sister. Can’t be in the room alone with the Father. She seemed frustrated that he sat in her seat and asked for sugar. Had sugar in her desk. She served the Father. She commented on his fingernails. She was shocked he wanted three sugars. Turned the blinds so to blind the Father. She watched him write, “May I ask what you’re writing with that ball point pen.” There is nothing new under the sun. “The hard working people of this parish trust us to keep this place. We must e careful how Donald Miller is used, neither hide nor put him forward.” She said he acted strangely after he came back from being singled out and meeting with him in the rectory. The boys’ well being is my responsibility. It’s about arriving at the truth. You’re controlling the expression on your face, right now. I’m not accusing you of anything. What happened in the rectory? (He said, I don’t want to continue this. If you’re not satisfied with that, you can speak with my Mt. Senior.) She told the Father about the alcohol. (He said, “Let this alone” and shut the door. Mr. McGinn caught him drinking altar wine. He had tears and begged not to be removed from altar boy. Sister James – that explains that thanks being to God. I might have done the same thing.)Father asked if she was satisfied. I’ll be going, because I have some writing to do. I’m not pleased with how you handled this.


  • Sister James – what a relief, he cleared it all up. Older asked, “Is it just easier to believe him?” You just want things resolved so you can have simplicity back. Older said, I’ll bring him down. When asked by the younger how she could be so sure he is lying – “Because of experience.” When told the students were uniformly terrified of her, the older sister said, “Yes, that’s how it’s supposed to be.”
  • The older sister called Donald’s mother. Donald’s mother came to visit her. She was listening to the radio that was confiscated. Said she was listening to news reports. Older sister said her Husband died in the war. Surprised that Donald’s father didn’t want him to come to this school. Closed the door on the father when he saw Donald’s mom in the older sister’s office. She asked to walk with Donald’s mom back to her work. After the mother told her that the father was taking an interest in Donald. The sister said that there might be a problem. The mother said he had to finish here to get to a good high school. She told the mother she was concerned about the relationship between the Father. And Donald. “It’s not right. I’m afraid he may have made advances on your son. I can’t be certain.” Mother said, maybe there is nothing to it. “I think there is something to it. I think the Father gave Donald the altar wine. Asked if he has been acting strange. Shocked when the sister said, “Let him have him then, it’s just until June.” I believe this man is creating or brought about an improper relationship with your son. What kind of mother are you? When she found out that Donald was gay and was going to be killed at the other school. That is why her husband beat him. Mother – “My son needs a man to care about him.” This will not do – I will throw him out of the school. The mother asked her to leave her son out of this. My husband will kill that child over a thing like this. “I will try.” Said the sister.


  • Why does someone keep opening my window? “I will decide what is important.” When he told her to stop picking things up. Her evidence was that he saw the Father grab Landon’s arm and Landon yanked away. She told the Father that she called the last parish and spoke to another nun. He had been in 5 parishes in 3 years. I will stand outside of the church. Did you give Donald wine to drink? He answered with have you never done anything wrong? And? I confessed it Father. We are not the same. “The dog that bites, is the dog that bites.” He said he did not give Donald wine and she called him a liar. As she left, “Once I leave, I will not stop.” He told her to wait and jaw twitching. “there are things I can’t say. I can’t tell you everything. There are things beyond your knowledge. Certainty is an emotion and not a fact. She told him to request a transfer and to take a leave of absence until it is granted. He said, I can fight you. You will lose. I have no sympathy for you. I know you are invulnerable to regret and cut your nails.

  • She was kind to sister James when she returned – spoke to her about missing her.

Younger sister asked older if she proved it to anyone other than herself. No. Younger said she wishes she was more like the older because she can’t sleep well. Maybe we’re not supposed to sleep well. She spoke to the Father’s promotion. She told the Mt. Senior about it and he said it was not true. She admitted to making no such call to the other parish. “If he had no such history, the lie would not have worked. His resignation was his confession. He was what I thought he was. When the younger sister said but you lied. “In the pursuit of wrong doing, one steps away from god. Of course there is a price.” She then cried that she has doubts.

Landon – smiled when the Father said he was leaving.

Discussion:


  • Altruism – takes risks and sacrifice personal gain

  • If the Father is also gay – he was nurturing Donals and not a victim

  • The Sister James was gone during the process of the father leaving

  • His sermons were very vindictive – conversation with her is used in the sermons

  • Donald’s mother’s ultimate sacrifice

  • Sister Aloysius Beauvier – Aloysius means saint and angel

  • Father Brendan Flynn- Brendan originated from the Irish name Brendan (earlier version: Bréanainn) which originated from the Welsh word “breehin” meaning ‘prince’. There are two prominent Irish saints who held this name. The most famous is the 6th century Saint Brendan the Navigator who was believed to have sailed across the Atlantic searching for the Isle of the Blessed and claiming to have set foot on American soil. His friend and contemporary, Saint Brendan of Birr, was purportedly carried heavenward by angels.

  • Sister James- James is ultimately derived from the ancient Hebrew “Yaakov” which is the origin of the name Jacob, traditionally thought to be derived from the word "akev" - which literally translates to "at the heel". In Genesis 25:26, Jacob was born the younger twin to Isaac and Rebecca and he "came out with his hand holding Esau's heel, so his name was called Jacob." The Lord told Rebecca that the younger would be stronger, and that the older would serve the younger. As the Biblical story progresses, the cunning Jacob eventually supplants his older brother by stealing his birthright and his father's blessing. "Is he not rightly named Jacob?" Esau asks in Genesis 27:36. "For he has supplanted me these two times." Therefore, the name Jacob is also associated with the verb ‘to supplant.’


  • Donald- The name comes from the Celtic elements “dumno” meaning ‘world’ and “val” meaning ‘rule’. Therefore, Donald essentially means ‘Ruler of the World’ or ‘Mighty Ruler’.

  • When he asked her have you not confessed a mortal sin? He was confessing his gayness.




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