The Amen Corner
|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (March 2010)|
First edition cover
|Publisher||The Dial Press|
The Amen Corner is a three-act play by James Baldwin. It was Baldwin's first attempt at theater following Go Tell It on the Mountain. It was first published in 1954, and inspired a short-lived 1983 Broadway musical adaptation with the slightly truncated title, Amen Corner.
The Amen Corner takes place in two settings: a ‘‘corner’’ church in Harlem and the apartment dwelling of Margaret Alexander, the church pastor, and of her son, David, and sister Odessa. After giving a fiery Sunday morning sermon, Margaret is confronted by the unexpected arrival of her long estranged husband, Luke, who collapses from illness shortly thereafter. Their son, David, along with several elders of the congregation, learn from Luke that, while Margaret had led everyone to believe that he had abandoned her with their son years ago, it was in fact Margaret who had left a dysfunctional Luke and pursued a religious life. This information precipitates confrontations between Margaret and her son, her congregation, and her estranged husband, regarding what they perceive as the hypocritical nature of her religious convictions, and the breakup of her family.
After an important conversation with his dying father, David informs Margaret that he is leaving home to pursue his calling as a jazz musician. On his deathbed, Luke declares to Margaret that he has always loved her, and that she should not have left him. Finally, Margaret’s congregation decides to oust her, based on their perception that she unjustly ruined her own family in the name of religion. Only after losing her son, her husband, and her congregation, does Margaret finally realize that she should not have used religion as an excuse to escape the struggles of life and love, but that ‘‘To love the Lord is to love all His children—all of them, everyone!—and suffer with them and rejoice with them and never count the cost!’’
The play was revived at the Royal National Theatre in London in summer 2013.
- Magdalena J. Zaborowska, University of Michigan. "Amen Corner." The Literary Encyclopedia. 13 June 2003.