What is Miss Helen's role as an artist in The Road to Mecca?

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When Helen's husband died, fifteen years before the start of the play, she was given a new lease on life. Liberated from a loveless marriage, she became newly inspired by a vision of an owl, and she felt that she had to pursue that image and create it. Thus, she...

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When Helen's husband died, fifteen years before the start of the play, she was given a new lease on life. Liberated from a loveless marriage, she became newly inspired by a vision of an owl, and she felt that she had to pursue that image and create it. Thus, she began her life as an artist, a woman who is unwilling to assume "the meek, churchgoing little widow" role her community seemed to dictate. Fearing darkness in the absence of religious faith, Helen was inspired by the light of a single candle on the night of her husband's funeral, and she saw a new way to achieve spiritual fulfillment.

Her role as an artist seems to juxtapose and contrast traditional religion, represented by Pastor Marius, with other possibilities for spiritual fulfillment. Helen has become a creator in her own right, and just as Pastor Marius's God created light, so does Helen, multiplying it with mirrors over and over. Instead of finding inspiration in a church, Helen has found it within herself, and it has enabled her to withstand years of social opposition and alienation because it has granted her a freedom and a fulfillment most others will never achieve.

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Miss Helen's role as an artist in the story is to provide spiritual comfort for herself.  Years before the story takes place, Miss Helen's husband died.  It was then that she started to no longer attend a traditional church service.  Her "church" became her home, and her worship became her artistic outpourings.  Her art, with the manipulation of light and dark, helped her keep spiritual darkness away from her.  It gave her comfort in this life, not necessarily any guarantee of an afterlife.  

Between Miss Helen and Elsa, the two ladies function as a counterpoint to traditional religious beliefs.  Pastor Marius represents the traditional Judeo-Christian religion, which is not painted in too positive of a light in the story.  The play shows the Christians as people that abandoned Miss Helen.  Miss Helen shows the reader the idea that a single religion isn't important.  What's important is how a religion gives a person comfort.  Elsa supports Miss Helen in this opinion by encouraging her to keep doing her art.  

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