Year of Wonders

Strength in Catastrophe 12th Grade

Humankind has the capacity to show extraordinary strength and compassion in times of catastrophe. Michael Mompellion in Geraldine Brooks’ “Year of Wonders” is a primary example of such a person, as despite his misguided religious beliefs he possesses a steely determination and desire to help those in need that renders his actions throughout the plague year commendable.

Michael takes on the role of leader in the plague year, a job that comes with much hardship and despair. It is he that encourages the villagers to quarantine themselves from the outside world when they become aware of the plague’s presence, and he uses his sermons to preach this selfless suggestion to many reluctant villagers. He reasons that “because of us, hundreds (may) die who might have lived”, and through protecting outsiders from their village potentially saved the lives of hundreds of strangers. His constant usage of “us” and “our” throughout the sermon suggests he has the best interests of the villagers at heart and that he is purely altruistic in his intentions. As the plague year progresses, he continues to lead the villagers as he brings them together on a regular basis allowing them to stay connected to one another and share in their despair and grief...

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