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Friday, November 19, 2010

A New Novel, Part 47 The School Tour

So we begin the tour of Sacré Coeur with RM Kluge.  We can't forget that Sacré Coeur is a convent and a school.  We learn some more details about it.

The Reverend Mother led them from classroom to classroom. They saw girls of every age from as young as six up to twenty-one. The classrooms were small and comfortable. The classes were rarely larger than ten girls. The teachers were nearly all nuns. The Reverend Mother explained, “Our day begins with chapel. The priest of our church, Sacré Coeur, is Father Abend. The Father also acts as the chaplain for our order and for our school. He officiates on most days and the sisters and students take turns with the details of the service. We have communion every day... ”

Aksinya interjected, “The Lady Natalya and I are Orthodox and not Catholic. We will not be able to commune with you.”

“There is an Orthodox church a couple of blocks from here. They cater already to many Russians who have escaped to the west. You will be allowed to attend there as you desire, but I must insist you be present for our chapel each day.”

“Of course.”

The Reverend Mother smiled, “Good. Our school, a gymnasium, is broken into classes divided by ability and not by age. We teach primary and advanced subjects including philosophy, languages, history, mathematics, art history, religion, science, literature, as well as culture and domestic skills. For those ladies, like the Freifrau Bockmann, our classes prepare them for their future responsibilities among society. For those others who continue on to the university, our classes provide the foundation for excellence and success. Most of the young women accepted into universities in Austria and Germany attended our gymnasium. We also provide a means toward vesture as a nun in our order as well as leadership for other orders in the Catholic church.”

Again, we get details about the school.  The class size and makeup, the teachers, the chapel, the chaplain, the communion... Then the reminder, Aksinya and Natalya can't commune with them.  You can guess that Aksinya will have problems communing at all--we will see this.  Then the information about the Orthodox Church close to Sacré Coeur--this is a deliberate foreshadowing.  The Orthodox Church close to Sacré Coeur is a critical point of the novel.  We see that this Orthodox Church caters to escapees from the Russian civil war.  Then RM Kluge tells them they must attend chapel every day, but they may not commune--this is an important point.
Then at the end, we get a repetition of some information we already knew.  The information isn't as important to us as it is to Aksinya.  It repeats the fact that she could go to the university.  This tempts her.  Then the other information lets us see more about the importance of Sacré Coeur, it not only provides training for women going to the university, it provides education for women going on to Catholic orders.

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