The Secret Scripture-Chapter Summaries


Chapter One

We are introduced to Sligo, the town in which Roseanne grew up. The reader is able to see that Roseanne's dominant memory is that of her father; a graveyard superintendant, singer, Presbyterian and sailor. It is revealed that he met Roseanne's mother Cissy, a chamber maid who stayed at a haunted house with him, whilst he was on leave. 

The audience also becomes aware that her father was a spiritual man, who once saw a motorcyclist ascend to Heavan after he crashed into a wall. It is clear that the Roseanne has an immense pride in her father given the adversity that we are told proleptically told he would go on to face. 

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Chapter Two

Introduced to Dr Greene, a senior psychiatrist at Rosecommon Mental Hospital, where Roseanne resides. He explains that the hospital has been comdemned following a surveyor's survey and he is worried about telling the inhabitants, especially Roseanne, this news. Dr Greene also refers to the domestic troubles he is having with his wife, Bet. 

Roseanne remembers her dad fondly, particulary being taken to the top of the Graveyard tower to conduct an experiment where her father drops hammers and feathers at the same time. 

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Chapter Three

Roseanne introduces the reader to the charcter of John Kane, who cleans the room for Roseanne. She has a conversation with Dr Greene, in which Dr Greene asks Roseanne whether she remembers why he was admitted to the hospital. She says she cannot, but tells the reader that this is a lie. Dr Greene tells Roseanne that he is going to reasses her, but Roseanne fears the prospect of being free, in this he calls her Mrs McNulty. Roseanne explains that she does not like to be called Mrs McNulty as it reminds her of her husband's, Tom, mother. 

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Chapter Four

John Kane is described as being a little man with a poor reputation. Roseanne questions who put her into the asylum whether it was her husband, Tom, or his father. She starts to divulge then stops herself. John Kane is then further shown to be a thoughtful person. Roseanne then begins to talk about her husband and his brothers, Jack and Eneas. 

She talks about the Civil War between the free-staters and the irregulars. She wonders what Dr Greene meant about reassesing her, and panics about leaving Roscommon. Roseanne tells the reader about the occasion where her father was asked to bury and irregular killed in the Civil War. Roseanne went to get Father Gaunt, who was worried about his reputation because of it but did the cermony. 

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Chapter Five

Dr Green starts talking about hsopital and the changes that will occur when the move happens. He then moves on to feel guilty about his life and what he has done. This includes his wife, Bet, anmd there is a section of dialogue which indicates that they have a strained relationship. 

The chapter switches to Roseanne's testimony of herself which continues the story of the murdred soldier. Army men burst into the house and threaten to kill people but are stopped by Father Gaunt. They blame Roseanne for the burial and Joe's job is threatened. Father Gaunt comes round to see the family and Cissy is treated like a slave around him.He starts to smoke and puts th cigarette out on Joe's hand. He then proceeds to offer Joe a job as a rat catcher which he accepts, though Roseanne doubts his abilities in such a proffession. 

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Chapter Six

Roseanne paints her father as patriotic,and tells the reader that her mother was now very quiet and isolated. Roseanne goes on to tell about the time she went to work with her father and how Joe gave her mother everything he earned to try and please her but it was not enough. Joe gave Cissy a scarfy for christmas but all Cissy said was 'oh' repetitively.

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Chapter Seven

Dr Greene finds his wife, Bet's, diary and opens it to find she cancelled an appoint 'following up on her dizzy spell'. He does not find the courage to talk to her about it. 

Roseanne talks about one time she went with her father who was rat-catching. Her father tells her about when her great-grandfather was there and there were babies lying in bed, lined up to die. Roseanne also talks about her father dousing the rats with parrifin then setting them on fire. As a result of the method he set the orphanage on fire and he girls had to climb out of the windows to escape. One hundred and twenty three girls were killed in the fire but her father said nothing and no-one could explain how the fire started. 

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Chapter Eight

Roseanne begins by revealing that her husband fished as a boy for 10 years. Dr Greene asks Roseanne if she wants to leave the asyulum and asks if she can remember why she was put into Roscommon. She tells Dr Greene that her father in law arranged to have her put in the institute and that her mother may have been put into the asylum back in Sligo. 

Roseanne reminices about walking home with her father to see Mr Fine leaving their house; Joe asks Cissy why he was visitng but she breaks down into tears. The next day, Joe asks Mr Fine and finds out that Cissy is paying him back for a loan that she took out to buy a clock. Cissy insists that she will not return it but then smashes it. Roseanne then tells the reader that her father was found dead but that she does not remember what killed him. 

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Chapter Nine

Roseanne reflects on her father's funeral and the discovery of her mother's Ansonia clock hands in his eyes. Dr Greene speaks about the events of the previous night with his wife. Roseanne's testimony reminices on when Father Gaunt came to her house after her father's death to ask her to marry Joe Brady, a fifty year old man who took her father's job at the cemetery. He also asks her to put Cissy into an asylum. But Roseanne refuses to both. 

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Chapter Ten

Roseanne permits to talk about her father with Dr Greene, as he has shaved his beard. He asked her again if he she knows why she was admitted but she only has memories of noise and loss. Dr Greene sits down, staring blankly for a while and starts to cry, Roseanne goes to comfort him and he states that Bet has died and that today is his birthday. 

Roseanne describes a memory of attempting to find her father's aura in the cemetery and being drawn into his 'concrete temple'. Joe Brady, his replacement, pushes her in; tires to **** her and is shot by John Lavelle. He asks where his brother's grave is and tells her that Joe had a death sentence for bringing the soldiers that took them. Roseanne believes this caused Joe to hang himself and blames John but she doesn't truly believe this accusation. Romantic tension is created between the two, but Roseanne guesses he left for America when she began to work at Cafe Cairo. 

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Chapter Eleven

Roseanne further describes the appearance of John Kane and then Dr Greene, which leads into Roseanne's conversation with Dr Greene that day. Dr Greene tells Roseanne that he has found a disposition that states that her father was in fact a member of the Royal Irish Constabulury, who was murdered. This contradicts all the previous referances Roseanne has made about her father; and she therefore denies that it is true. They talk a little more after this upset; but Dr Greene shortly leaves. 

It switches to Dr Greene's perspective as he explains his reaction to Bet's death, and their relationship in general. He then changes to talking about Roseanne and how inrigued he is by her story. The last statement is one of regret as he explains that his 'dalliance' caused the alienation between him and Bet. 

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Chapter Twelve

Opening Chapter to Part Two. Roseanne talks about her time working at Cafe Cairo and the people she has met. She further remembers how the job was given to her; Roseanne was upset about seeing her mother curled up under her father's motorbike that she took a walk along Rosses Point.It was here that she found Mrs Prunty, searching for her lost daughter. Roseanne found the child in the caves off the beach and in return Mrs Prunty offered her a job at the cafe. She then talks about her first meeting with the McNulty brothers. The chapter then switches to Dr Greene who talks about having received a document signed by Father Gaunt. 

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Chapter Thirteen

Roseanne writes of the first time she met Tom, by the sea, and of her child and how he was taken to Nazareth. The reader also gets an insight into how Roseanne was shunned bythe community in later life; 'the mad woman of Strandhill'. Roseanne talks of a positive time in her life within this chapter. She writes about the summer in Sligo when she was just a 'straight-forwad ordinary girl' and she also talks about Tom's band in Sligo and how she still remembers what he would always order when he came into the cafe she worked in. 

Roseanne first properly meets Tom when he saves her from drowning out at sea when she was swimming too long without air. Romantic tension is built up between Roseanne and Tom. However the chapter ends with a sense of foreboding when Roseanne mentions how her mother simply 'disappeared' from her life. 

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Chapter Fourteen

Dr Greene describes the hillside of windmills and how he's never noticed them before; he then describes his unconditional grief following Bet's death. Dr Greene mentions how he hears a mysterious knocking in his house and how Joe Clear was a policeman living near Sligo (contrasting to Roseanne's testimony) which was unusual. He then brings in his alcohol addiction. The reader learns that Roseanne witnessed a strange burial, and that she told her father. Inside the coffin a stash of guns, notes of secret meetings and names of wanted people were found; leading to Willie Lavelle's death. 

The narrative switches to Roseanne who talks about meeting Tom's mother, and mentions how little she knows about Eneas. She describes bumping into John Lavelle. 

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Chapter Fifteen

John Kane rapes a woman who's in the early fifties who had been suffering from a psychotic episode. Dr Greene talks about the night where he thought for a moment that he may have buried Bet alive; because of a phone call which he finds impossible to have an explanation for; and feels remorse and wishes he could go back-so that Bet could forgive him. Roseanne describes her wedding day and how much he loved Tom. She also talks about meeting John Lavelle. 

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Chapter Sixteen

Roseanne delves into her memories of the time shortly after she married Tom McNulty. She runs into John Lavelle and the more they speak the more wary Roseanne becomes; as it is not proper to be speaking alone to a man when she is married. Father Gaunt sees Roseanne and John together. Tom is not home when Roseanne returns, as he is marching in Sligo. When he returns he is covered in blood as the Sligo guards were violent towards them in order to stop the march.

Dr Greene wishes to speak to the Sligo Mental Hospital in order to develop his ideas about why Roseanne was admitted there in the first place. Roseanne tells Dr Greene that she had a child; she remembers the time that Tom did not come home for a whole day and her feeling that something was terribly wrong. 

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Chapter Seventeen

At the start of the Chapter, Tom has not returned home so Roseanne goes to dance at the Plaza in order to find him-as his band is playing there. Just as Roseanne is about to enter backstage Jack McNulty appears and prevents her from speaking to her husband. This is where it is inferred that she will not be married to Tom McNulty for much longer. 

After arguing with Jack, she is seen to be in an iron hut surrounded by grief when Jack and Father Gaunt arrive. It is revealed to the reader that Cissy was put in an asylum, by Father Gaunt, and then Roseanne's marriage is completely broken in front of her eyes as Father Gaunt claims that it is void, and that she therefore no longer has a husband. The end of the chapter sees all grief being replaced by fierce anger and the suggestion that her life had been replaced with a new one after these events. 

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Chapter Eighteen

Father Gaunt comes to see Roseanne, alone, and lets her know that he has been succesfull in his efforts to free Tom. Roseanne does not understand; Father Gaunt goes on to declare that Roseanne had *********** and thus did not behave in the manner a Catholic wife usually does. He then goes on to tell her that her marriage to Tom as been annulled, and therefore Tom is free to marry again as if the marriage never happened. 

Father Gaunt states that Roseanne's condition must have come from her mother. Roseanne says that John Lavelle will come to her defence, but Father Gaunt counters that it is not possible as he is dead. When Dr Greene reads Father Gaunt's account, he learns that Roseanne had a child and that she supposedly killed it. He then states that if he had read those words he would also admit Roseanne to the hospital. 

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Chapter Nineteen

Roseanne talks about John Kane saying that he barely talks now. Roseanne talks about Father Gaunt's visit to her; saying she felt confined to the iron hut. One day Roseanne leaves her iron hut and sees Eneas McNulty. She invites them in, and they sleep together. The hospital doctor tells Roseanne that the patients are being moved.

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Chapter Twenty

The Chapter starts with Dr Greene explaining the state of Roscommon and reflecting on the demolition of the building. He visits Roseanne and she gives him her father's copy of 'Religio Medici' which Roseanne asks for it to be given to her son. Roseanne then starts to explain her pregnancy to the reader and how she tried to hide herself away from the town of Sligo. Roseanne explains how she became sicker as the pregnacy continued; she decides she must go to Sligo in order to seek help. 

Dr Greene corresponds with Percy Quinn from Sligo Asylum. He goes up to Bet's room for the first time since she died, and reads her books on roses. As he is handling Roseanne's book a letter falls out from 1987. Roseanne continues to explain how she went to Sligo to the McNulty's house. Mrs McNulty opens the door but refuses to help her; Old Tom forces Roseanne to leave and informs her the Tom is getting married again. Roseanne ends up making her way through a powerful storm to Coney; almost drowning if the storm hadn't slowed slightly. She begins to give birth and thinks she sees someone watching her. She lies on the island for a great amount of time suffering through her contractions; eventually she gives birth biting the umbilical cord once the baby is born. 

She awakes later to find the baby gone from her arms; she calls for help several times but no one comes. She remains on the island until the ambulance arrives and she asks the paramedics if they know where the baby has gone but they don't. Roseanne is insistent that she kept the baby warm and safe in her arms whilst she slept. She ends up in hospital with internal bleeding and a small chance of survival. Father Gaunt visits her and tells her she is going to be sent somewhere safe and that her baby is at 'Nazerath'. Roseanne has no other memories of the hospital except when Eneas McNulty helped her escape and takes her to where her baby is . They stand in the field for a while whilst Roseanne nurses the baby.

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Chapter Twenty-One

Dr Greene goes to Sligo; his friend Percy who works at the mental asylum there and has found some things about Roseanne for him. It is proven that Joe Clear was a police officer, the orphanage house is called Nazareth House, and that Roseanne did not kill her baby. As well as this Percy reveals that a man called Sean Keane who accused Brady of menacing and molesting Roseanne- this is why she moved to Roscommon. Sean Keane also disappeared from the records at the same time Roseanne did. It is also revealed that Roseanne's mother, Cissy, died in the Sligo Mental Hospital. 

Dr Greene goes to Nazareth House, and the nun there tells him to go to England because all records relating to that name are at their Bexhill-On-Sea location. When Dr Greene returns to Roscommon, there is a large pile of papers on his desk. He realises that this is an account Roseanne's life written by herself. Dr Greene believes that Sean Keane, son of John Lavelle, is John Kane and decides to write a note to John Kane asking about his past. 

Dr Greene travels to England with Roseanne's copy of 'Relgio Medici' and inside is a letter from Jack to Roseanne. In the letter Jack apologises for his actions and explained what has happened since Roseanne was seperated from the family. Dr Greene arrives at Bexhill to find that there is a child under the name William Clear, and the father was given to be Eneas McNulty, and the baby was given to Mr and Mrs Greene. He went back to Roscommon and wanted to tell Roseanne but couldn't. Dr Greene had a letter from John Kane saying that he took the baby off the island because he loved his father and that the woman that was attacked was by Doran.

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Chapter Twenty-Two

Dr Greene still has not told Roseanne but he doesn't know when the right time will be. But he does tell Percy the truth.

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