Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1020
In Part I, Scene I of The Green Pastures, Reverend Deshee teaches Sunday school to a group of children in a Louisiana town. He explains the first five chapters of Genesis, after which the children ask him questions.
Scene II takes place at a fish fry in pre-Creation Heaven. The fish fry is attended by angels of all ages. An Archangel arrives and hands out diplomas to all of the children. Then Gabriel arrives, followed by God. After tasting the boiled custard, God decides that the recipe needs more ‘‘firmament’’ to taste right. To produce more firmament for the custard, God performs a miracle. There is so much firmament, however, that it starts to rain down on the fish fry. God creates Earth to drain off the excess firmament. God then creates man to farm the earth.
Scene III takes place on the newly formed Earth, where Adam is alone. God tells Adam that he needs a family; he tells Adam to lie down while he creates Eve. Adam and Eve taste the fruit of the tree God has forbidden them to harvest and are kicked out of the Garden of Eden, after which they have two sons, Cain and Abel.
In Scene IV, God descends upon Earth to find that Cain has just killed Abel by hitting him with a stone, because, he says, Abel was making a ‘‘fool’’ of him while he worked in the field. God tells Cain that he has committed a ‘‘crime’’ and orders him to go as far away as possible.
In Scene V, Cain stops by the side of a country road, where he meets a young woman. She agrees to be Cain’s Girl, and takes him home to find lodging at her father’s house.
Scene VI takes place in ‘‘God’s private office in Heaven.’’ God comments to Gabriel that he hasn’t walked the earth for several hundred years, and decides to see how things are going.
Scene VII takes place on Earth on a Sunday. God finds the people engaged in gambling and debauchery, few of them attending church. Noah, a country preacher, comes along, and God walks with him. Noah, thinking God is also a preacher, tells him of the general lack of faith among the people. Noah invites God home for dinner with his wife.
Scene VIII takes place in the home of Noah and his wife. While there, God draws up a plan for Noah to build an ark, warning him that He will be sending a flood to drown all the people, who are full of sin, except Noah and his family.
In Scene IX, Noah and his sons build the ark while their neighbors look on, jeering at Noah and calling him crazy. Cain the Sixth kills Flatfoot with a knife for flirting with his girlfriend. As the rain comes, Noah and his sons begin to load the animals onto the ark.
In Scene X, the ark finally finds dry land, where Noah and his family release the animals and plant seeds. God appears to admire the new world he has created and to congratulate Noah on his success. Gabriel, who accompanies God, is less enthusiastic.
Part II, Scene I takes place in God’s office. God is once again unhappy with the abundance of sin among human beings. He calls Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob into his office and informs them that he has chosen one of their descendants, Moses, to lead his people to the Promised Land of Canaan, which God has set aside especially for them.
In Scene II, God speaks to Moses, explaining the task for which he has been chosen. Moses is not convinced that he is hearing the voice of God until God first sets a bush on fire and then turns a rod into a snake.
Scene III takes place in the throne room of the Pharaoh, who is being entertained by a magician. Moses and his brother Aaron arrive and demand that Pharaoh release their people from bondage in Egypt. The Pharaoh refuses, and Moses (with the help of God) causes a swarm of gnats, and then a swarm of flies, to descend upon the Pharaoh’s court. He tells the Pharaoh he will not call off the pests unless the Pharaoh agrees to let his people go. Pharaoh tricks Moses several times, but does not truly agree to release the people until his dead son is brought in to him.
In Scene IV, Moses, Aaron, and their people have been wandering in the desert for forty years. They have come to the river Jordan, where Moses finds that he is too old and sick to enter the Promised Land of Canaan with the others. He appoints Joshua to lead them in battle for the city of Jericho. God comes to Moses and shows him that his people have won the battle and entered Jericho. God then leads Moses to Heaven.
Scene V takes place in Babylon, where the people, who are full of sin and without faith, attend a wild party in what looks like a New Orleans jazz nightclub. Even the King and the High Priest are corrupt and sinful. A Prophet arrives, but is shot dead by the Master of Ceremonies. God is so angered by this that he renounces his people and vows to abandon them.
Scene VI takes place in God’s office, where He decides to go down to Earth one more time.
Scene VII takes place at the Temple of Jerusalem, where a battle has been fought. God appears to Hezdrel and questions him about his faith and the faith of the people. Hezdrel says that they worship a ‘‘new’’ God, the ‘‘God of Hosea,’’ rather than the ‘‘God of Moses.’’ Hezdrel explains that the ‘‘old’’ God was full of ‘‘wrath and vengeance,’’ whereas the ‘‘God of Hosea’’ is full of ‘‘mercy.’’
Scene VIII takes place once again at the fish fry in Heaven, where God gets the idea to send a ‘‘God who must suffer’’ down to Earth in the form of Jesus Christ.
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