SPRING: Chapter 9 (Seethedogbowwow…) Summary and Analysis
Chapter 9 (Seethedogbowwowgoesthedogdoyouwanttoplaydoyouwant toplaywithjaneseethedogrunr)
Soaphead Church (Elihue Whitcomb): a child molester who works as a “spiritual guide” for the people of Lorain
Velma: Elihue’s wife for a brief period of time
Elihue Whitcomb was a person who always seemed to prefer the company of objects rather than people. However, his dislike for others could only mean that he would be in a profession that serves others. Although he briefly considered becoming a priest, he decided against it, instead choosing to be an analyst and interpreter of dreams. He enjoyed his job immensely because he could witness the silliness of his fellow human beings every day. He believed himself to be superior to those that came into his office seeking advice, and seeing their weaknesses and humility merely fed his ego.
Elihue’s personality was neatly ordered and well-balanced except for one flaw: his “rare but keen sexual cravings.” His passions are directed towards little girls because they “were usually manageable and frequently seductive.” The bodies of little girls lacked “all the natural excretions and protections the body was capable of,” which disturbed his love of precision and cleanliness. Since he also hated physical contact, even the seduction of a girl “smacked of innocence and was associated in his mind with cleanliness.” Ever since he had been abandoned by his wife, Velma, he had devoted his life to the elimination of filth and disorder. This desire for little girls reconciled his sexual desires with his obsession of cleanliness.
Elihue finally settled in Lorain, where the residents nicknamed him Soaphead Church. Since he had spent most of his life as a professional scholar, he could not find work easily and went through a number of jobs. He finally became a counselor, a job he was well-suited for because he understood the psychology of human beings and could grant his clients relief from their sufferings simply by telling them what they wanted to hear. His clients “asked for the simplest of things,” and Soaphead Church was always able to grant these requests because he never judged his clients for being greedy or destructive.
He rented an apartment in the house of an old religious lady, and he enjoyed this arrangement, except for the old dog that slept by the entrance to his apartment. Soaphead Church’s love of order and cleanliness was challenged every time he saw the dog at his front door. He had bought some poison to put the dog out of his misery. However, even being near the dog disgusted him, and he could not bring himself to finish the job.
Pecola Breedlove enters his office one day with “a little protruding pot of tummy.” She thinks that he can help her; she “can’t go to school no more” and hopes that he can “do it for her.” She asks him to give her blue eyes. To Soaphead Church, this is the most reasonable request he could ever hope to encounter. For the first time in his life, he wishes he could actually help people instead of manipulating their weaknesses. This wish then turns into anger, for he knows that he is a fake, and that there is nothing he can do to make Pecola’s wish come true. As he looks toward his window, his eyes fall upon the dog, and he is inspired by an idea. He tells Pecola that he is merely an “instrument” of God, and she must perform a ritual in order to find out if God will grant her wish. He quickly retrieves the poison he bought and pours it over some meat, instructing Pecola to give the meat to the dog. If the dog changes his expression, God has heard her. The dog eats the meat and almost immediately convulses and dies. Pecola, shocked, runs away.
After this is all done, Soaphead Church takes out some paper and writes a letter to God. He curses God for giving him a life where people did not love him and a preference for little girls. Because of this, he has been forced to live his life as a misanthrope and...
(The entire section is 1,505 words.)