Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
The Miracle of the Bells shows how much good one man, motivated by love and altruism, can engender in the world. As the novel opens, the unemployed press agent Bill Dunnigan arrives in Coaltown, an ugly immigrant mining town, with the coffin of one of its citizens, a young actress named Olga Trocki who was the daughter of a Polish ne’er-do-well. Bill had originally discovered Olga in a dance revue and helped her to an eventual starring role in a major Hollywood motion picture. Upon finishing the movie, however, Olga died of tuberculosis. Now the angry producer, Marcus Harris, has refused to release the film.
Olga wished burial in her hometown, so Bill is honoring her request. With his last dollars, he hires an undertaker and visits a priest about having the church bells rung, another of Olga’s wishes. He meets Father Paul, the young, shabby priest of St. Michael’s who considers himself a failure because parishioners do not value his advice for improving life in Coaltown and forsake his parish for better-heeled churches. Father Paul will not charge for the funeral, and Bill feels grateful and generous. In turn, Father Paul feels Bill is an answer to his prayer, to bring new hope to Coaltown. The two men become friends and determine to fight their way back up. Bill feels Olga’s spirit is with him, and that God, Saint Michael, and Father Paul could do with a good press agent.
Bill gets the idea to have all five local churches...
(The entire section is 893 words.)
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