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Mr Ives Christmas
“GOD HAS CALLED HIM TO HEAVEN,” the headlines read the day after Robert’s death, a death that would become “the defining event of his (Ives) middle-aged life. Even though the entire story of the novel flows to and from that bloody moment, the story beneath the surface, Ives’ resurrection from the grave of grief, revolves around a mystical vision of “four winds.” This puzzling experience has left Ives at a loss for words. “...I wake up every day wondering if I’ll ever see anything like that again, and what is it supposed to mean.”
Shortly after Robert’s death, aquaintances of Ives were urging him to seek revenge with more violence. “...Just remember, if you don’t take care of business, no one else will. Do you really think God gives a *censored*,” remarked Mr. Malloy. But Ives knew this was not the answer, “it [revenge] would not bring his son back.” At this point Ives did not know how to feel, but he soon reasoned that his bitterness towards Daniel Gomez was a “poison,” and he needed to do “something” to get the poison out of his body. So, Ives concluded that the only way to deal with his suffering was to “trust in God and cling to the path of righteousness; and this he did, despite his doubts, approaching the whole notion of his faith as a matter of will and discipline,” like a good samaritan (Luke 10.37).
At this very moment Ives began a quest for “some kind of goodness.” It all began with a subtle interest in helping Daniel Gomez’ grandmother, a woman who was convinced her grandson’s good side was “asleep.” Ives began to accompany her to group grief sessions, hoping to “bring some kind of relief to his grandmother and perhaps to himself.” As the sessions persisted, Ives began to communicate with Gomez, sending him letters and a package every so often. Ives’ first letter was persuasive, telling Gomez “it is not too late to change.” As the years passed Gomez proved his progress by sending Ives a small piece he wrote that was later printed in the prison newsletter and Ives “began to feel that he had been correct in his beliefs.”
Over the years Ives kept his communication with his son’s killer to himself. Neither Annie nor Luis approved of his good will. Then one day, Ives recieved a call from a Father Jimenez, the same man that had introduced Ives to Daniel Gomez’ grandmother years earlier. He was calling on behalf of Daniel Gomez to ask Ives if he would kindly meet with them.
Look, sir, I know it’s a lot to ask, but we of the comunidad
have to do something to make it better for people like him,
the government won’t...What it’s about is compassion, sir.
I beseech you to think about what our Lord would have done.
Will you think about this? I know it would make a difference,
Here, Father Jimenez wants Ives to act in good faith, by trying to imitate christ. However, Ives had recently begun to feel “less compassionate,” and decided to ignore the phone call along with the letters he recieved from Gomez’ fiancee.
Shortly after Gomez was released from prison Ives began to break-out with some type of hives. This horrible rash began on his arms and soon covered his entire body. It kept him from sleeping as he would scratch until he bled night after night.
Towards the end of the novel in a segment entitled “The Miracle of His Skin,” Ives described to Luis the unbelievable thing that occurred while on vacation with Annie in Europe. He explained to Luis how serious his condition had become while away.
...Cutting himself and bloody and restlessly turning all night,
an impossible itchiness...hives raging his knee and arm joints,
bumps formed under his arms. He knew it was really bad when
welts rose on his back and blotches appeared floating like large
measle dots on his face, a depressing state, because he felt like a
leper, not wanting to touch or be touched, and he would twist
and turn and ask “Why me?” and “Why is it going on and on?”
Ives was struggling immensely, but did not know why until he had a dream and
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