Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

InMan of Molokai: The Life of Father Damien, Ann Roos evokes the self-sacrifice and heroism of Father Damien, who volunteered to serve in the leper colony on the Hawaiian island of Molokai from 1873 until his death from leprosy in 1889. Effective treatments for leprosy (now called Hansen’s disease) were not discovered until the 1940’s. During Father Damien’s lifetime, this highly contagious disease was always fatal. Hawaiians diagnosed as suffering from Hansen’s disease were segregated from the general community and forced to live in Kalawao, the leper colony on Molokai. Those sent to Molokai knew that they would die within a few years, but they also realized that they would never be allowed to leave Molokai in order to see their family members living on other Hawaiian islands. The lepers in Kalawao were alienated from other Hawaiians, but they also believed that they were abandoned by the very missionaries who had converted them to Christianity. Until Father Damien agreed to serve on Molokai in 1873, no Christian missionary had been willing to accept permanent assignment to Kalawao, although every two or three months Catholic and Protestant clergy would travel to this leper colony in order to hold religious services. Such intermittent visits were insufficient for the Christians in Kalawao, who needed regular religious guidance so that they could prepare themselves for death and for the afterlife.

Roos has organized her book in a strictly...

(The entire section is 572 words.)