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In Chapter Five, the ceremonies begin with a young girl singing, followed by a prayer and more singing. Drawing himself back to the events, the narrator realizes that a guest has started to speak with amazing command. Reverend Barbee, the speaker, resembles a little Buddha and speaks about the Founder and the dream of the college in such a moving manner that the narrator feels numb and more in love with the college and what it stands for than ever before. It is an epic that Barbee tells: of the Founder escaping slavery, and of the tearful tragic end which he comes to, witnessed by Barbee and Bledsoe.
The event at chapel which affects the narrator most is the speech of the Reverend Barbee. Here the reader is faced with yet another example of storytelling within storytelling. Not only is it a story though, it is one which has been told many times before him. And this story too has echoes of the how the narrator's life will proceed, touching on points such as an underriding conspiracy, a funeral procession, and the journey underground. Another clue of this man falling into a pattern of the narrator's life is the dark-glasses the reverend "hides" behind, a notion which will surface in later chapters. Barbee is described as Buddha-like, but what is most surprising to the narrator about his physical qualities is the shock that he is blind. Thus pretense is suggested; Barbee can orally illustrate a story for others but cannot see himself. He is hiding his blindness behind the glasses while creating an illusion for the audience to see into and believe.