Man of Molokai Critical Context - Essay

Ann Roos

Critical Context

Roos wrote her biography of Father Damien shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and it was published in 1943. During the early period of World War II, Americans became very interested in the history of Hawaii. Roos must have concluded that young Americans would enjoy reading a life of a famous Hawaiian hero such as Father Damien.

In order to convey to these readers the upright character and true heroism of Father Damien, she described very eloquently how he helped lepers on an individual basis. A good example of her ability to touch the hearts of her readers can be found in the chapter entitled “The Shepherd Finds a Lost Sheep.” Roos describes how Father Damien brought consolation to an aged and bitter woman who had rejected God after the death of her only son from leprosy. He reminded her that the Virgin Mary had also grieved for her only child, and he told her that Mary was “a Kind Woman in whose care children would be forever safe.” This powerful emotional argument persuaded this woman to believe in God before she died. Roos’s biography of Father Damien has remained a very effective description of his heroism.