Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
The Lilies of the Field is an account of the legendary accomplishments of Homer Smith, instrumental in helping five refugee nuns realize their dream. Legends often get embellished and assume a life of their own, so the narrator sets the record straight by re-creating the past—how Smith, a twenty-four-year-old African American from South Carolina, just released from the army, meets the nuns. An impetuous, kind but headstrong man, he equips a station wagon for travel on the West Coast. A skilled man, he travels around, living frugally and working only when he feels the need. One day in May as he is driving by a valley in the Rocky Mountains, his curiosity is aroused by the sight of four women, attired in bulky clothes and head scarves, putting up a fence. Wondering if they need his help, he stops to offer his services.
Smith finds that the women speak German and have a limited knowledge of English. He is greeted by an elderly woman, who introduces herself and her fellow nuns. Mother Maria Marthe thanks God for sending her a big, strong man to help. Smith refutes this by saying he was not sent by anyone but stopped of his own will, yet the mother superior remains firm in her conviction that he is the answer to her prayers.
Smith assumes he will be helping the nuns put up the fence, but the mother superior assigns him the task of repairing the roof. To his surprise, Smith finds that the nuns already possess the shingles and needed...
(The entire section is 1062 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of The Lilies of the Field Summary. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!