Chapter 6 Summary
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1291
Motes drives around until he finds the blind preacher and his daughter. He follows them from a distance as they walk four blocks to a small two-story house near the railroad yards. As they enter the house, the girl twists her head and looks at the car; inside the vehicle, Motes has plastered his face against the glass, looking at a sign on the house that announces rooms for rent. He continues driving until he reaches downtown and parks his car in front of a movie theater.
As people are leaving the theater, Motes stands on the hood of his Essex and begins preaching, as if he were standing in a pulpit. He asks people where the Christ's blood has touched them, and immediately the crowd begins to taunt him. When someone asks what church he belongs to, he tells them he preaches the Church Without Christ—a place where the blind do not see, the lame do not walk, and what is dead stays dead. It is a church where Jesus’ blood has nothing to do with redemption.
He continues preaching, telling the milling crowd that there was no Fall because there was nothing to fall from and no Redemption because there was no Fall and no Judgment. The only fact that matters in Motes’ church is that Jesus is a liar. People come and go, and eventually the only congregation Motes has left is the woman in the glass ticket booth. She hollers at him to leave or she will call the police. Motes gets down from his car and drives away and repeats his preaching at the other two movie theaters in town.
In the morning, he rings the bell at the house where the blind man and the child live and asks the landlady for a room. She asks what he does for a living; he tells her he is a preacher at the Church Without Christ and she shows him the room. Even for three dollars a week, it is a small, sorry place. There is an extra door opposite the front door; when Motes opens it he is surprised to see a thirty-foot drop to the ground below where a fire escape used to be. Motes asks about Hawks; he and his daughter live downstairs in the front room. He pays the woman in advance, and as soon as she leaves Motes goes downstairs and knocks on the Hawks’ door.
The child opens the door a crack. She tells her father who it is and the blind man comes to the door, though he does not open it any wider. The man’s expression is not friendly as it was several nights before; he appears “sour and unfriendly” and he merely stands there silently. Motes had prepared what he would say and he tells them he lives here now and has started his own church, the Church Without Christ; he preaches on the streets. Hawks seems disinterested in anything and tells Motes to leave him alone. Motes had expected some kind of “secret welcome” and demands to know what kind of a preacher Hawks is that he does not even try to save his soul. Hawks shuts the door on him.
Hawks watches through the peephole as Motes leaves; though one eye is slightly smaller than the other, he is not blind and uses the glasses to pretend he is. The girl asks if her father dislikes Motes because he follows her; Hawks tells her he would welcome the man if we were actually after her. She likes Motes’ eyes because, though he does not like what he sees, he keeps looking. Their apartment is the same as Motes’ though they have more furnishings. Hawks complains that Motes is a “Jesus-hog.” His daughter tells him he tried the same thing and got over it; so will Motes. She makes a deal with her father: if he helps her “get him,” he can leave like he has wanted to do.
As he smokes, Hawks looks thoughtful and evil; finally he laughs and then says that might be the perfect plan. She says he should tell Motes how he blinded himself and show him the newspaper clipping about the incident. Out in his car, Motes decides he will seduce the girl. Seeing his daughter ruined should convince Hawks that Motes means it when he preaches the Church Without Christ. Another reason for this plan happened one night earlier: Mrs. Watts got up while he was sleeping and cut an obscenity into the top of his hat. He wants someone to whom he can teach a lesson, and he assumes the child is innocent because she is homely. Before returning to his room, Motes purchases a new hat, something totally different than the last one: a white panama hat with a red, green, and yellow band around it. Once outside, he tears the band off, presses out the crease in the middle, and turns down the brim. He thinks it looks as “fierce” as the other one.
Later in the afternoon, Motes returns to the Hawkses’ and pushes his way inside when the girl once again opens the door only a crack; he does not even make eye contact with her. Hawks barely has time to put his glasses on before Motes enters and demands to know why he has not made Jesus heal his eyes. When Hawks tells Motes he can still save himself, Motes says he already has, without repenting. Hawks unfolds a yellowed clipping from his billfold and tells Motes how he got his scars. In the doorway, the girl is motioning her father to smile; he eventually grimaces.
The headline of the article reads “Evangelist Promises to Blind Self” and tells how Asa Hawks, of the Free Church of Christ, promised to blind himself in order to prove that Jesus Christ redeemed him. There is a picture of a younger, scar-less Hawks who has a terrified look in his mismatched eyes. Motes is stunned and silent after reading. The girl tells him her father blinded himself with lime and hundreds were converted as a result of the dramatic gesture. Her father should even be powerful enough to save Motes, she adds. Motes quickly gets up to leave and then turns around and hands her a folded piece of paper before walking out the door.
On the paper is one of the corny pick-up lines Motes had heard Emery use on the surly waitress, and the girl is pleased. Hawks is annoyed that Motes walked out with his clipping; his daughter needles him by reminding him he has a second clipping. This article’s headline is: “Evangelist’s Nerve Fails.” Hawks had every intention of following through with the blinding that night, and two hundred people had gathered to see him do it. He preached for an hour on the blinding of Paul and then put his hands in the bucket of wet lime and ran them down his face. In the end, though, he did not have the courage to open his eyes; he fled the stage and disappeared down the alley.
Motes takes his car to a garage to have some parts repaired; the man examines the automobile and finally says it cannot be done. Motes says he knows this is a good car, knows it was made for him, and has served him well as a place to be where he can get away. Motes drives to another garage where the man says he will fix everything overnight because the Essex is already a good car in every way and because he is the best mechanic in town. Motes leaves the car there, certain he has left it with an honest man.