The Road Taken by Those who Enter Paradise
Simo Fotso Appolinaire Brel
Moral Choices in Literature
According to the one and only Jerry Lawson, the first engineer to create a video game system that enables players to play interchangeable games, we are now out of hell. We have arrived at Mount Purgatory’s Island at last. The fact that we accomplished this at the start of a fresh day is utterly amazing! And what is that? I, Romeo, say.
An angel in a boat is bringing us a blessing. It delivers repentant souls. These spirits will trek with us as we ascend the Purgatory Mount, where you will learn lessons and atone for your sins to get to Heaven. It will be wonderful!
In Ante-Purgatory, we come across a variety of spirits. Unexpectedly, they are startled to see my shadow. Jerry claims that the fact that I am a living being is the sole reason they are acting in this way. He gave me the advice to ignore them. The First Spur of the Indolent and the Second Spur of the Late-Repentant are so reached as we proceed on our quest. Right now, I hardly have any feeling on my feet.
-In what direction will we go next?
-The valley of the rulers is our next trip, where we will run into several kings who have passed away.
At dusk, a serpent comes into the valley, but two angels drive it away.
Let us rest here until the morning, Jerry offers.
Why would we choose to do that? Already, we have come a long way. Let us continue. Compared to our voyage through the inferno, this is nothing. I, Romeo, reply.
It is not that I do not want to move forward, my youth; we just cannot.
-Oh my!! You have a lot of queries. The repentant souls are forbidden from travelling at night in Purgatory.
A powerful eagle picks me up as soon as I close my eyes. where? I have no idea. I only know that I should take pleasure in this dream and conserve my energy for the upcoming day.
When I wake up, I find myself at the entrance of Purgatory. The great engineer tells me that St. Lucia came while I was sleeping and carried me to the gate. All I could see was this huge sword emanating arrays of light. After getting used to its brightness I could perceive someone holding it. It was an angel. Three steps stood between us. Steps so clean, we could see our reflection in them. My mentor tells me that these steps are mandatory to get out of purgatory. They each have a profound purpose. The first one is the step of confession where I had to recognize the sinner I am. Its color was white marble. The second one, the step of contrition where I felt deep sorrow regarding my sins. Thirdly, the bright red step of satisfaction where I had to pledge, I was going to change for the better. Finally, after climbing the three steps to the gate, the angel guarding the entrance carved seven Ps into the forehead of mine.
“Now, go” says the angel.
We have seven terraces we must pass through to get rid of these tattoos on our foreheads. The first terrace is the one of the Prideful, those who are full of themselves. In this terrace, we see the wall of the cliff sculptures representing humility, the virtue that heals pride. We also stumble upon the prideful penitents.
-Why are these souls carrying these heavy weights on their backs?
-Romeo, it is to humble themselves.
As he answers my question, I also take a bent position to engage in a conversation with them. On our journey there I met an old acquaintance; Willis Haviland Carrier. Will was a famous Presbyterian from the 19th century. After his second wife Jennie Tifft Martin passed in 1939, we lost contact. I know that two years later he got married to an Indiana native, Elizabeth Marsh Wise. He was, however, unable to breed an heir, resulting in the adoption of his only legitimate child, Howard Carter Willis.
-You are recognized as the first engineer to invent air conditioning! New York’s Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo is filled with visitors contemplating your grave. What is a man of your caliber doing here?
-Yes, it is true, I am the first to invent an air conditioner, however throughout my existence I always lived with pride. I could not believe in a higher force than myself. I refused to repent until breathing my last source of energy. “I should not have been so courteous while I lived, because of the great desire for excellence whereon my heart was set. For such pride the fee is paid here” (Canto XI lines 85-87). All I can do is pray for those on earth still standing a chance.
On our way to the exit, we heard: “Our father, who art in Heaven, not circumscribed, but through the greater love Thou hast for Thy first works on high, praised be thy name and thy worth by every creature, as it is meet to render thanks to thy sweet effluence”
(Canto XI lines 1-6). After our listening sessions, an angel erased one P from my forehead. We then climbed to the second terrace of the Envious.
-So many voices, it drives me crazy!
Indeed, in this terrace penitent souls call out examples of fraternal love. Their eyelids are sewn shut with iron wire and there are also voices calling out examples of punished envy.
-Director, this is freaking me out.
-You are still a wuss after all Romeo.
-Now I know this did not come from my mentor so who is it?
-It is me, Rudolf.
Rudolf, Karl Diesel was a young boy, who was forced to labor in his father’s workshop and use a barrow to deliver leather items to customers due to the financial hardships the Diesel family was experiencing at the time. He attended a Protestant-French school. After his passing on September 29th, 1913, his invention, the Diesel engine, which causes fuel ignition by raising the temperature of the air in the cylinder due to mechanical compression, became more well-known and a significant replacement for the steam piston engine in numerous applications, such as agricultural machinery.
-You disappeared on your way to a meeting of the Consolidated Diesel Manufacturing company in London. Eugen cried all the tears he had in his body, that day. I will never forget September 29, 1913.
-Don’t go spouting nonsense! You do not know me. We are not friends.
-See this is your problem Christian, you are always competing, I am not your enemy. What must you do to ascend heaven?
-It is too late to save me, if anything, pray for my soul.
-I still do not understand how you ended up here.
-During my time on earth, I preferred other people’s misfortunes to my success.
-Disgusting, you deserve your punishment. Let us go, Director.
On our way forward, an angel guided us to the next level. Without forgetting to erase a P on my forehead, he started singing «Blessed are the merciful. »
-I always wondered why you did not own a share of Apple.
-Quit this nonsense, Romeo!
-You chose to work for Fairchild when you were attending Homebrew Computer Club alongside Apple cofounders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Why didn’t you join their cause?
-This is neither the time nor the place to talk about such matters. What awaits us is the third terrace of this mount.
Jerry always tries to freak me out but this time I shall not budge. My legacy is too great to be tarnished by the dangers of purgatory!
*coughs* *coughs* *coughs*
A voice shouts welcome to the temple of the wrathful Romeo, but I am still blinded by the black smoke.
-Tell me Romeo, why me? Tell me Romeo, why me?
-Why are you so angry?
-Why do you think of Romeo!?
-Do not blame your childhood for the way you turned out.
-What can a silver spoon baby like you know what it is to be independent at 11 years old?
-Shut up Frederick.
-My mother abandoned me, I was only 7 at the time. I invented the refrigeration system for long-haul trucks and railroad cars, but my journey was filled with anger.
-I always told you to be patient, but you always wanted to rush things.
-Rom, when I was 7, my biological father gave me to a priest. Till this day, I can smell the odor of that small church on my fingers.
-I do not have the energy to listen to your stories, I already know everything you are going to tell me.
-There is one thing that I have learned since 1961.
-Why are you bringing in your date of death into our conversation?
-The only way out of here is by being patient. Stop losing your cool so easily.
Take care of yourself, Mr. McKinley Jones.
-Sorry for earlier, Mr. Lawson. I know that you were always the type of person to lead not follow. Now that I think about it, Demolition Derby, the early coin-operated arcade game developed by you, the chief hardware engineer for Fairchild’s video game division in the middle of the 1970s is the origin of Nintendo.
-It is Gerald not Jerry.
-You could at least thank me for giving you your flowers.
An angel was waiting for us. The weight of my body dropped as he was getting rid of a P on my forehead.
-I am still puzzled by the structure of this place, Gerald.
-How many times do I have to explain it to you? Love determines the structure of Purgatory. Look at this map.
-Thank you for your guidance.
-Romeo, you may see me as a grumpy man, but always remember that I am with you not against you.
Of all the terraces we went through, the slothful one was the calmest. Here we could walk peacefully. There was no sign of real danger. The damned souls are sentenced to yell out acts of zeal as they run without stopping. When nighttime arrived, I had the worst dream of my life. I was getting raped by a strange creature. I could feel its hands stripping my clothes from my body as I was screaming and defending myself. It was only after tears started dropping that my savior, Mr. Lawson, cut the creature’s head off. These events left me speechless. It was not long before the director knocked some sense into me.
-We do not have time to stall here, let us get moving.
I was not trying to spend another second in this cursed place, therefore I followed his lead.
-Is it me or do the angels guarding the entrances to the terraces get bigger as we advance?
-That should be the least of your worries, for the challenges in front of us are nothing compared to what we have experienced.
Ascending to the fifth terrace of the Avaricious and Prodigal, we see the penitents’ souls’ hands & feet shackled as well as their faces stretched on the ground. It is so disgusting that I vomit. The penitents exclaim instances of both poverty and kindness.
-Get a hold on yourself!
-Easier said than done. Anyways, why are their faces stuck to the ground?
-Because they avoided heaven while they were alive.
-I still do not get it.
-Their eyes are drawn to the earth in Purgatory because they solely desired material goods and never lifted their gaze to God while on earth.
-Let me have a conversation with this soul.
-We do not have much time, so make it quick.
-What is your name? If you knew you were going to end up in this, would you have lived your life differently?
-My name is Joseph. If I could go back to earth, I would give away all my riches and live in peace with poverty. See, one thing about life is that you can make it fun no matter your circumstances. It is said in the bible that true wealth is when you give your riches away.
Suddenly, Mount Purgatory quakes. Before I could ask my question, the soul tells us that this phenomenon occurs every time a sinner becomes completely purged and ready to ascend Paradise. As the three of us advance, we meet an angel who erases the fifth P carved on my forehead. This angel had declared to us that “they whose desire is for righteousness are blessed” (Canto XXII line 3-5).
-It feels good to have another member on our team; don’t you think so Gerald?
-We are lucky the angel of Justice made it impossible for us to feel hunger and thirst.
-Why are you always so serious?
-We are on the sixth terrace of the Gluttonous.
-Here, the gluttonous die of thirst and hunger. These two extraordinary trees produce the most delicious fruits of Purgatory. Their purpose is, however, to pique people’s appetites for food and drink.
An unidentified voice reverberates in our ears from the branches and leaves, presenting famous examples of moderation in one case and prime examples of gluttony in the other.
At the exit of the sixth terrace, an angel removes my sixth P.
Joseph, Gerald and I climb to the seventh terrace of the Lustful. I’m still thinking about the skinny repentant we saw on the Gluttonous patio, and I’m curious as to how souls may become thin if they don’t require food. In their responses, my father and Joseph describe how the soul is created as well as how their aerial bodies are created.
-This is it my son.
-What do you mean?
-Here is where we part ways.
-Father, there is nowhere we can go. Do you not see the wall of flames in front of us? I do not know about you, but I did not come all the way here to be burned alive.
-How is your faith so thin. After everything we went through, you are still scared of trivial matters.
-The Lustful penitents walk in flames while shouting examples of chastity. During their time on earth, they let their sexual desire guide them. The same passion driving them on earth is now burning their body in Purgatory.
-Your mother is waiting for you on the other side of the fire, now go!
-Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.
The lesson taken home from my adventure is the spiritual journey of man through life. In this pilgrimage, I learned about the nature of sin, its consequences, how it corrupts the soul and how it draws man away from God.
According to Aristotle, justice ought to be determined by a person’s character rather than by the laws of society.