The Trials of Brother Jero

The Trials of Brother Jero Summary and Analysis of Scene 3


Scene 3 represents the majority of the rising action of the play. The scene opens at the beach, where palm leaves and stakes mark the land of Jero's church. A cross and rosary hangs from one of many empty bottles on the ground. Brother Jero is wearing a white velvet cape, standing with his divine rod. He first addresses the audience, saying that he is unsure how Amope found his house. He reveals that he had brought his fine cape from her, and that she did not originally question his ability to pay. Jero explains that he wished to procure such a cape so that his followers would call him “the velvet-hearted Jeroboam.” He aims to be known as “Immaculate Jero, the Articulate Hero of Christ’s Crusade.”

Jero suddenly becomes very angry at the prospect of having had to escape through his own window, and curses Amope. As he does, a young girl wearing little clothing passes by his sight. He explains that she basses by every morning before going to swim. Jero launches back into a monologue, admitting that he feels like “a shop-keeper waiting for customers.” He adds that his followers are “dissatisfied” because he keeps them so, referencing Chume specifically. Jero says that although Chume wants to beat his wife, Jero will never let him do so, because keeping him under Jero’s power means that he will not rebel.

The girl, now clean after swimming and with much better appearance, returns to walk back across the stage; Jero stares as she passes, calling it a “divine transformation.” He shouts to the Lord to pray for the power to resist temptation. As he leans over his knees with hands together, Chume arrives. Jero asks him to pray as well, and he submits. Together they invoke the Lord, Abraham, David, Samuel, Job, Elijah, and Jesus, becoming increasingly passionate. Finally, Jero stands up to address Chume and inquire why he is not at work in the morning. Chume says he has called in sick, and Jero sees that he wishes to pray to relieve his troubles. Speaking to the audience only, Jero refers to Chume’s excitement while praying as “animal jabber,” calling him crude but admitting this means that “he would never think of setting himself up as my equal.” He then mentions that most of his followers believe he lives on the beach, and that “it does them good to believe I am something of an ascetic.”

Jero returns to coax Chume into silent meditation, until Chume bursts out insisting that Jero must let him beat his wife. Jero says it is not the will of God, as Chume desperately insists, speaking in passionate pidgin, that his wife will be his downfall. Jero asks God to forgive Chume, calling him a sinner. He continues instructing Chume as other worshippers enter, joining in with the prayer. Jero says that Chume’s wife is his “heaven-sent ritual” and then begins to address the audience alone. He reveals that he prophesied that the first-arriving worshipper will become a chief in his town, and that another of his followers will become prime minister of a yet-to-be-formed Mid-North-East State. Another of his penitents desperately wants children. He turns back to his congregation, and summons Jero once again. The congregation begins to sing and dance, and Jero gives Chume bottles to fill with seawater.

As he leaves, the drummer boy runs onstage looking over his shoulder, followed by a woman, Jero’s neighbor, who is chasing him. Jero inquires what the drummer did; he has been accused of insulting the woman’s father but denies his guilt. They both run off stage quickly while Chume reenters with the water, which Jero intends to bless. But the two reappear, and Jero feels the obligation to run after them, leaving Chume with the task of blessing the water. Chume leads the chorus when one penitent separates herself from the group, shouting incoherently in spasm. Chume calls desperately for Jero, and unable to find him hesitantly sprinkles some of the holy water on the penitent and crosses her. He begins to ask for her forgiveness, and gaining confidence with the consistent cries of “Amen” from the congregation, continues on his own sermon asking God for future successes. As he is passionately speaking, the woman again enters, drums in hand. The drummer boy follows, begging for his drums to be returned. The penitent then points out Brother Jero’s return: He is bleeding, with his clothes torn.

Jero orders everyone to leave, so that he can pray for the “soul of that sinful woman” on his own. He tells Chume he is shocked that a woman would “dare lift her hand against a prophet of God” and that he’d sensed that women would cause him trouble today. Chume agrees, citing his experience with his wife (whom Jero still does not realize is Amope) in the morning. As Chume continues his story and Jero makes the connection that Chume’s wife is Amope, Jero alters his advice to Chume for his own benefit. He says that since Chume’s wife “seems such a wicked, willful sinner,” Chume must beat her. Chume is overjoyed, but Jero adds that he must do it within his own household. Jero capitalizes on Chume’s glee and blind trust by adding that the Son of God appeared to him and called Jero a knight: “He named me the Immaculate Jero, Articulate Hero of Christ’s Crusade,” he tells the gullible Chume. Chume leaves in awe, bidding farewell to “Brother Jero—the immaculate.” Jero is left on stage holding his cape.