Mr. Ives Christmas Essay, Research Paper
?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 a miracle occurred. The dream entaled Ives walking through the forest and coming upon a small river. In the river, wading waist-high in the water, was his son Robert. After beckoning his father to come forward, Robert reached out to touch his shoulder and asked,
?Pop, why do you keep doing this to yourself?? Then,
bending, his hands cupped, scooped a handful of water, and
this he poured over his father?s head, and then he brought
up some more and washed his limbs with that water, and then
he was gone, (Hijuelos, 238).
The next morning, while getting ready to shower, Ives glanced in the mirror only to find that his entire face and body was clear, without a single mark.
The sores on his body were obviously an outer manifestation of his soul. When the sores healed it proved to Ives that he could now forgive Daniel Gomez for the murder of his son. Robert, the victim, is the instrument of this. Now that Robert has forgiven Gomez, Ives must forgive him as well.
As the next Christmas holiday quickly approached Ives began to feel more compassionate about Gomez. Then, one night Ives recieved a second phone call from Father Jimenez asking, again, to set up a meeting between Ives and Daniel Gomez. This time Ives agreed and took a trip up to Gomez? home the following Wednesday.
Upon entering Gomez? home Ives was quickly reminded of his first visit on 137th street. Gomez and his family were obviously poor. However, on a shelf in the living room sat a crucifix and plaster Virgin Mary with Child. When Gomez appeared Ives noticed two tear drop tattoos on his face. These tears, as well as Gomez? religious decorations, are supposed to represent his repentence. After greeting Gomez with a hug, Ives was ?touched? by the scent of his cologne, which was ?sweet as church incense.?
The idea behind Ives? visit to Gomez is that it was a sacrifice. It was something Ives sacrificed in goodness knowing that his son was ?somewhere in the room, approving of what he beheld.? This sacrifice is supposed to imitate the sacrifice on the cross, the ultimate sacrifice. As Ives prepared to leave Father Jimenez told him that ?only God knows how much good he has (you have) done.? What Father Jimenez told Ives was precisely true. God was the only one who would know how much good he had done.
As Ives sat in church a few days later, he wondered and prayed. After beginning his quiet meditations he casually thought about the occasional wind that would open the chapel doors and ruffle the cloth on the altar, ?Jesus coming out of His resting place.?
With painted but transcendent eyes, bearded and regal,
He would come down the central aisle toward Ives, and
placing His wounded hands upon Ives? brow, give His
blessing before taking him away, and all others who were
good in this world, off into His heaven, with its four
mysterious winds, where they would be joined unto Him
and all that is good forever and ever, without end, (Hijuelos, 248)
These ?four mysterious winds? are representing the four corners of the earth–all of creation–and they point to the end of time, which is a symbol of God?s soveriegnty over all of us, forever and ever.