Short summary - The Spire - William Gerald Golding

British literature summaries - 2020

Short summary - The Spire
William Gerald Golding

The action of the parable is transferred to medieval England. The rector of the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Joslin, planned to complete the spire, which was supposed in the original design of the cathedral, but for some reason remained on paper. Everyone knows that the cathedral has no foundation, but Jocelyn, who had a vision, believes in a miracle. He feels the cathedral as a particle of himself: even a wooden model reminds him of a person lying on his back.

But the steeple is not built with holy spirit - it is created by workers, simple, rude people, many of whom are not faith in faith. They get drunk, fight; they poison Pengall, the hereditary watchman of the cathedral, who asks the abbot to intercede for him. He does not see the point in building a spire, if for this he has to destroy the usual way of life. In response to his complaints, Jocelyn urges him to be patient and promises to speak with the master.

Jocelyn is brought a letter from his aunt, a former lover of the king, and now an elderly lady. It was she who gave money for the construction of the spire in the hope that she would be buried in the cathedral. Jocelyn refuses to answer the letter.

A conflict with the sacristan, father Anselm, the confessor of Jocelyn, who does not want to oversee the construction, is immediately outlined. Under the pressure of Jocelyn, he still goes to the cathedral, but Jocelyn feels that their long-standing friendship has come to an end. He understands that this is the price of a spire, but he is ready to make sacrifices.

Meanwhile, the master, Roger the Mason, is trying to determine the reliability of the foundation and is personally convinced that the existing foundation can hardly withstand the cathedral. What to speak of a spire four hundred feet high! In vain, Jocelyn convinces Roger to believe in a miracle: he says that now it will be difficult for him to force the workers to build a spire. Joslin decides the true intentions of Roger: he wants to wait until a more profitable job appears, and then leave without having started construction. Here Roger Rachel's wife, “a dark-haired, dark-eyed, assertive, stupidly talkative woman”, who does not like the abbot, approaches the men. She tactlessly intervenes in the conversation of men, teaching the holy father. Letting her speak, Roger promises to erect the spire as much as he can. “No, how dare you are,” Jocelyn objects.

The rector is again brought a letter, this time from the bishop. He sends a shrine to the cathedral - a nail from the cross of the Lord. Jocelyn takes this as another miracle and hurries to share the news with the master, but he believes only in a cold calculation. Jocelyn wants to make peace with Anselm and allows him to no longer oversee the work, but he requires written evidence from him.

Autumn is coming. Endless rains lead to the fact that under the cathedral is constantly standing water. An unbearable stink emanates from the pit that Roger dug in the cathedral to study the foundation. “Only by painful willpower” Jocelyn forces himself to remember what an important work is being done in the cathedral, constantly evoking a divine vision in his memory. The gloomy sensation is aggravated by the death of one of the artisans, who escaped from the woods, the office of senile madness, and rumors of a plague epidemic. Jocelyn feels that all this is being recorded in the bill that will someday be presented to him.

Spring is coming, and Jocelyn is again perked up. Once, when he entered the cathedral to take a look at the model of the spire, he witnesses the meeting of Pengall Goody's wife and Roger Mason. As if the abbot sees the invisible tent surrounding them, he understands the whole depth of their relationship. Disgust covers him, he sees dirt in everything ...

This sensation is reinforced by the sudden appearance of Rachel, who suddenly for no reason begins to explain why she and Roger have no children: it turns out she laughed at the most inopportune moment, and Roger also could not help laughing. But then Jocelyn comes up with seditious thought: he realizes that Goody can keep Roger in the cathedral. At night, Joslin is tormented by a nightmare - it is an angel and the devil fighting for his soul.

Easter passes, and the tower under the spire begins to grow little by little. Roger is constantly measuring out something, arguing with the artisans ... Once a landslide happens: in the pit dug to check the foundation, the soil floats and crumbles. The pit is hurriedly covered with stones, and Jocelyn begins to pray, feeling that by the power of his own will he holds the whole cathedral on his shoulders. But Roger now considers himself free from all obligations. In vain, Jocelyn tries to convince him to continue construction. And then Jocelyn uses the last argument. He tells Roger that he knew about his decision to go to work in Malmesbury and had already written to the abbot there that Roger and the brigade would be busy building the spire for a long time to come. Now the abbot will hire other workers.

This conversation undermines the abbot's strength, and he wants to leave, but along the way he witnesses how one of the artisans teases Pangall, hinting at his male impotence. Losing consciousness, Jocelyn sees Goody Pangall with red hair scattered across her chest ...

Jocelyn is seriously ill. He learns from Adam's father that the work to build the spire is ongoing, that Goody is not showing up anywhere, and Pengall has escaped. Having hardly risen from bed, Jocelyn goes to the cathedral, feeling that he is losing his mind; he laughs with a strange, shrill laugh. Now he sees his mission in direct participation in the construction. From the artisans, he learns that Goody, before this childless, is expecting a child. He also reveals that Roger the Mason is afraid of heights, but overcomes fear and that he is still building against his will. In word and deed, supporting the master, Jocelyn forces him to build a spire.

When he again finds Roger and Goody together, he writes a letter to the abbess of the convent, asking him to accept the "unfortunate, fallen woman." But Goody manages to avoid such a fate: she has a miscarriage, and she dies. Rachel, who learned about Roger's relationship with Goody, is now gaining unlimited power over her husband: even artisans chuckle at the fact that she keeps him on a leash. Roger starts to drink.

The construction of the spire continues, Jocelyn works with the builders, and suddenly it is revealed to him that they are all righteous, despite their sins. And he himself is torn between an angel and the devil, feeling that Goody bewitched him with his red hair.

A Visitor with a nail arrives at the cathedral, which should be walled up at the base of the spire. Among other things, the Visitor must deal with the denunciations that came to Jocelyn during all two years of construction. Their author was Anselm, who accused the abbot of neglecting his duties. In fact, as a result of the construction, Anselm simply lost part of its income. Jocelyn responds out of place. The visitor sees that he has set off his mind, and sends him under house arrest.

On the same day, bad weather falls on the city. Fearing that the almost completed spire will collapse, Jocelyn runs to the cathedral and drives a nail into the base of the spire ... Having gone outside, he falls without feelings. Having regained consciousness, he sees an aunt by the bedside, who has come personally to ask him for a burial in the cathedral. He again refuses her, not wanting her sinful dust to desecrate the holy place, and in the heat of the argument she reveals to him that he owes his brilliant career exclusively to her, or rather, her connection with the king. He also learns that Anselm only portrayed friendship, feeling that under Jocelyn you can get along pretty well. Knowing that he will not find support among the clergy, Jocelyn secretly leaves the house to "receive forgiveness from the unchristians."

He goes to Roger the Mason. That is drunk. He cannot forgive Jocelyn for being stronger; curses the steeple in every possible way. Jocelyn apologizes to him: after all, he “believed that he was doing a great thing, but it turned out that he only brought death to people and sowed hatred.” It turns out that Pangall died at the hands of Roger. Jocelyn blames himself for having arranged Pangall’s marriage with Goody. He seemed to have sacrificed her - he killed her ... Roger can not listen to the revelations of the abbot and drives him away. Indeed, because of Jocelyn, who broke his will, he lost Goody, work, artisans.

Jocelyn loses consciousness and comes to himself already at home, in his own bedroom. He feels lightness and humility, freed from the spire, which now begins to live its own life. Jocelyn feels that he is finally free from life, and calls on the dumb youth sculptor to explain how to make a tombstone. Rachel arrives, who says that Roger tried to commit suicide, but Jocelyn no longer cares about worldly concerns. The last before death, he is visited by the thought: “Nothing is done without sin. Only God knows where God is. ”