The story that most easily caught my eye was “A Pilgrim’s Progress”. While reading this story at first I was conflicted. When Noeli began to attend Primary School and learn how to behave, his teacher told the students that they must carry a bible with them at all times to avoid Temptation. Temptation is brought into this world by Satan. At the very end of the lesson between Noeli and his teacher, his teacher reminds the students that, “And remember that Adam and Eve ate the snake and lost all their clothes because they did not carry their bibles around with them” (pg. 29). The story is referring to sexual Temptation. The snake is a metaphor for Temptation creeping in. Noeli’s Sunday School teacher uses negative words to describe the snake, she says, “The snake, children is an ugly, oily thing. It worms its way into all sorts of things, especially where it shouldn’t go. We’re lucky there are no snakes in Tiko” (pg. 29). At first to the reader, the telling of the story of Adam and Eve makes it seem as if sex is frowned upon by the Tikongs. To them, sex is temptation, which is brought upon by Satan.
Earlier in the text, though, we learn about Manu’s relative, Sione Falesi. Sione is said to be the most important person in the secular and spiritual realm. The reason everybody goes to church all day on Sundays is to make up for the many of sins that they create all week, the other six days. This originally started because of the many of errors that Sione has committed throughout the week, and he wants everybody, including god, to forgive everybody. A result of all of the sins that Sione has committed is his sixteen children. An important point that draws these two separate stories today is, “’The Seventh is the Day of the Lord; every other day belongs to Satan,’ Manu explained. And Satan, as Teachers of Sunday School say, does nothing but lead people into Temptation. Thus the six days that belong to Satan are not only a period of rest and recovery, but also of Temptation and much, much sin” (pg. 3). In the beginning, it seemed as if the Tikongs used religion to forgive them for their true selves, which are sinners. The question that kept reappearing was, if they worshiped the Lord over Satan then why was 6 days spent practicing Satan’s sins and one day practicing the Lord’s forgiveness for the sin?
Noeli’s first experience with a girl was while he was “window shopping”, which seems almost as a pun, because the only thing he was interested in with Lisi and Mina were their bodies. He tells how he always walked “twenty years from the rear ends of the Marching Girls” (pg. 31). When describing his experience with eternal ecstasy while standing on the Tulisi street corners, he describes the girls’ bodies and the way that their arms, hips, and legs rubbed him. His eternal ecstasy ended when he fell face up in between Lisi’s legs. With Lisi and Mina, what he thought was eternal ecstasy was the temptation of their bodies, the sexual temptations. After this, he meets another girl, Kali. While describing Kali, Noeli spoke of her beauty, the way she played an instrument, and her soul. The narrator tells, “Noeli was more concerned with the music in Kali’s soul. As he looked through her into the beauty of her loveliness, and as he contemplated her other potentials, Noeli’s soul quivered and flipped, to say the least” (pg. 33). Noeli connected to Kali through their souls, rather than a connection through the pleasures of their bodies.
Without Noeli’s story, it was difficult to understand how they worshiped the Lord, but spent more time living Satan’s way. Noeli shows the audience that without the sins and errors made, without the temptations of Satan, the Tikongs would not know how to live in the goodness of the Lord. This isn’t just relevant to the Tikongs, though. As human beings, we learn from our mistakes every day, so that we can move on to better beings. Noeli learned from not finding eternal ecstasy through the pleasure of physically touching a girl, something had to change. He soul had to be what connected to the girl, this would give him eternal ecstasy.