Have you met Helen yet, fellow reader? Oh, Helen. What a character.
She attends the orphanage with Jane. She’s a bit older. She’s also ostracized by the teachers for seemingly minute failures and emotionally and physically punished. But does she fight back? Even internally? Nope. She’s the very model of the Golden Rule. She points out her “flaws” and endeavors to do better when others point them out. She bears punishment almost willingly. She befriends Jane and helps her in times of trial by encouraging her to “return good for evil,” and “endure patiently.” And all this goodness wrapped in the package of Helen comes just at the time when Jane (with me cheering her on!) is attempting to speak out against injustice and stand up for herself. I was left after Chapter 6 right next to Jane when she says, “I suspected (Helen) might be right and I wrong, but I would not ponder the matter deeply…I put it off to a more convenient time.”
SPOILER ALERT – I’m about to disclose the contents of Chapter 9.
We don’t see much of Helen for a few chapters because most of the school has come down with typhus and Helen is sick as well. Jane gets wind that Helen might be sicker than she has realized and she sneaks in to see her. She finds Helen, quite ill indeed, glad to see her and calmly speaking words of comfort. She is indeed on her deathbed, but is she disturbed? Sad? Fearful? Listen to her words:
“(I am going) to my long home – my last home.”
“I am very happy, Jane…there is nothing to grieve about.”
Jane: “Where are you going to Helen? Can you see? Do you know?
Helen: “I believe: I have faith: I am going to God…my maker and yours, who will never destroy what He has created. I rely implicitly on his power, and confide wholly in his goodness: I count the hours until that eventful one arrives which shall restore me to him, reveal him to me.”
“I am sure there is a future state: I believe God is good; I can resign my immortal part to Him without any misgiving. God is my father; God is my friend; I love Him; I believe He loves me.
Wow – such unquestioningly beautiful theology from a young girl! Jane and Helen fall asleep together, and Helen is dead by morning. It was such a simple and touching scene that it brought tears to my eyes. I’m not yet sure what role Helen will play in Jane’s life, or why Bronte included her in the story, but Helen did serve to remind ME of the beauty of child-like faith, and convince me that maybe it is more important to “turn the other cheek,” being an encourager instead of one who tears down.
What did you think of Helen, fellow reader?
Oh, and by the way, Helen’s tombstone in the churchyard bore the inscription “Resurgam” – I shall rise again.