Doubt: Catholic Church and Father Flynn
Decision making without concrete evidence can lead to faulty actions Leaders need to make decisions on the basis of substantiated evidence.Decisions made under other circumstances can cause the observer to doubt the legitimacy of the leader’s decision.In the play Doubt: A Parable, by John Patrick Shanley, Sister Aloysius’ mischievous mind is always looking for ways to over analyse the actions of Father Flynn.
She is almost diabolical in her actions to have him removed from the school. Father Flynn, on the other hand, appears only interested in doing what is best for Donald Muller.
Unfortunately, his well-intentioned actions make him vulnerable to the suspicious Sister Aloysius. Sister Aloysius’ certainty that innocent actions are harmful causes her to unfairly judge Father Flynn. Sister Aloysius unfairly judges Father Flynn’s sermons and suspects his motives. At this point Sister Aloysius has only suspicions that Father Flynn could be in Doubt or knows someone that is. While speaking to Sister James, Sister Aloysius indicates her concerns about Father Flynn’s and indicates that by saying “Well, sermons come from somewhere, don’t they? Is Father Flynn in Doubt, is he concerned that someone else is in Doubt? (Shanley 14). Sister Aloysius does not have any substantiated evidence of Father Flynn, as she only has her suspicions. One of her major character flaw is that she harbors a deep mistrust in her students, fellow sergman and society itself. So far, all she knew at that point was that Father Flynn grabbed a boy’s wrists, and that he was talking about Doubt in one of his sermons. Father Flynn said later on in the book that his sermons are not true stories because lies make for a better sermon. “I’m sorry, I’m not forthright, but I must be careful not to create something.
I can only say I am confused, perhaps needless, about matters in St. Nicolas School,” Sister Aloysius remarks. (15) You can tell by this quote that she has some negative thoughts about the incident with Donald Muller, as she assumes that Father Flynn is having inappropriate behaviour toward Donald Muller. She is trying rephrasing it so it is less obvious of her concerns and assumptions. Sister Aloysius negatively judges Father Flynn’s interest in promoting a closer relationship between the Church and the community because she feels it is an inappropriate way to interact with the students and community. But we’re not members of their family. We’re different….. And they think were different. The working class people of this parish trust us to be different” (30) Sister Aloysius remarks. Sister Aloysius believes that because they are a Catholic school, they must stay true to their vows that the school believes in. She believes that the rules are in place for a reason, and to be true to God, she must obey the oath that she took to become a Sister. Anything that challenges the operation of the school, and is out of line, she would not stand for.
Therefore, she did not believe in the recommendation of changing the way things were already being run. The traditions of the Roman Catholic Church form the back bone of the rules and standards that Sister Aloysius is supporting. Father Flynn is a strong believer in the proposition that the Church should be more lenient and fun with the students, as it creates a better community of people. He makes a statement in the play that goes a little like this, “I think the message of the second Ecumenical Council was that the Church needs to take on a more familiar face.
Reflect the local community. We should sing a song from the radio now and then. Take the kids out for ice cream. ” (30) Father Flynn does not believe in following the rules of the Church to such a high extent that it is needed to emphasis every single rule. Unlike Sister Aloysius, he feels that having the school a more relaxed and fun environment results in creating a better learning strategy for the students. It also makes it a better environment for the teachers and student to be in because there is less stress.
In result though, Sister Aloysius is against this proposition because she feels that she must abide by the rules and is more for the old school kind of method. Sister Aloysius unfairly doubts Father Flynn’s explanation regarding the incident with Donald Muller because of her preconceived notions regarding his motives. “What happened in the rectory? ” (32). Sister Aloysius questions. This quote states that she is clearly tired of dancing around the question, as at this point she has given up and just wants an explanation.
She wants him to admit that he seduced the boy because she ‘knows’ that this is true due to her certainty. She does not believe his explanation that he was just talking to Donald in the rectory about keeping him on as an altar boy, even though he stole the wine. The needs for Father Flynn to tell her that she is right is important to her. This will put her at ease with the case and allow her to feel satisfied by her gain in authority and power. ”There was alcohol on his breath when he returned from the meeting with you. ” (33) Sister Aloysius remarks.
She believes that Father Flynn is also guilty based on the fact that she assumes, he gave Donald Muller wine so he could seduce the boy. Believes that he did something to the boy, Sister Aloysius thinks that it is inappropriate and therefore, when he came back to class, he had his head on his desk and had alcohol on his breath. Sister James corroborates this remark by stating, “I did smell it on his breath” (33). This comment gives more certainty to Sister Aloysius and her beliefs. She does later on tell Sister Aloysius that she is going to bring Father Flynn down with or without Sister James’ help.
This indicates how committed and certain she is to her stand on this critical issue. With the lack of supported evidence that Sister Aloysius has discovered concerning Father Flynn’s motives, it is unfair and unreasonable to be certain about her unquestionable justifications. She has closed her mind on all the other possibilities that could be, because of her singular mind set . If she doubts herself, she would feel unsteady and uncertain. Her hard-won knowledge would evaporate right before her and she would be vulnerable, a characteristic that she does not feel comfortable exploring… just yet.