Hinds’ Feet on High Places Summary

Hannah Hurnard

Hinds’ Feet on High Places

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Hinds’ Feet on High Places Summary

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Hinds’ Feet on High Places is an allegorical novel by Hannah Hurnard that illustrates the Christian journey from immature believer to mature believer. It was published in 1955 and follows the story of a girl named Much Afraid through her journey to the peak of the mountain.

Much Afraid is an orphan with deformities in her face and feet. She speaks slowly and has trouble walking. She lives in the Valley of Humiliation with her adoptive Family of Fearings. She becomes a shepherdess for the Chief Shepherd whom they despise. They try to remove her from his service by insisting she marry a member of their family, Craven Fear. She cries to the Chief Shepherd that she wishes to journey to the High Places.

He introduces her to Sorrow and Suffering who will travel with her. She is frightened, but she is dedicated to the shepherd, so she sets off. She knows that he will not be with her the whole time, but she chooses to go anyway. She follows a path he gave her, going through the forest of Danger and Tribulation, the Furnace of Egypt, the Valley of Loss, and the Precipice of Injury. She even makes it through the Grave on the Mountains.

As she goes on her journey, people from her adoptive family follow her and taunt her, hoping to sabotage her mission. Resentment, Bitterness, Craven Fear, Pride, and Self Pity attempt to drag down her journey and make her turn back to the Valley of Humiliation. She calls upon the Shepherd to help her fight these battles, but he does not help, or so she believes. She is able to use Sorrow and Suffering to defeat them.

She has been purified by all her trials and is able to reach the High Places. She finds that she is no longer in need of human love. At the Place of Anointing, she realizes that her heart has grown bigger and filled with something better than human love. She receives a new name, Grace and Glory, and she realizes how she has transformed through her dedication to the journey. She reflects on what brought her here and the changes that have taken place.

Sorrow and Suffering are transformed as well. They become Joy and Peace. The Shepherd brings her to the cliff to look out over the Valley of Humiliation, and Grace and Glory realizes that what she thought was malice in her family is suffering. After careful consideration with the King, she and the Shepherd decide to return to the Valley of Humiliation to bring her good news back to them to free them as well.

The story is an allegory for the journey of a Christian to Christ. Throughout the story, Much Afraid must go through trials to connect with her higher self. Although the tests seem extreme, and she wonders why the Shepherd is not helping her, he is allowing her to find peace in her suffering and continuation of the journey. She could listen to the negative emotions shouting at her and turn back to live in spiritual distress, but she continues going. Her pain purifies her, and when she reaches the top, she is able to look compassionately through the eyes of Christ at the suffering of her fellow man.

Every name in the book is the embodiment of some part of the human condition, both good and bad. Everything that Much Afraid experiences is directly related to what our spirits go through as we grow up and learn to connect to our higher selves. She is transformed by her experiences and able to overcome some of the more base human emotions. This transformation changes her outlook on the rest of the world and where she got her start.

It is also a novel about healing. The author experienced much sorrow during the first part of her life as she dealt with seizures and stuttering. She was afraid to go into public places or do much with her life until her conversion at the age of 19. Her protagonist is deformed physically and finds it difficult to speak. She is not sure if she will be able to complete the journey, but as she gets further and further, she finds the strength to go on.

This journey heals her perceptions of herself and her abilities. Once she reaches the High Places, her constant companions, Sorrow and Suffering, transform into Joy and Peace denoting that healing has taken place. She has trusted the Shepherd completely and followed his path. In the end, she becomes a complete person and no longer needs human love and acceptance.

The allegory is much-beloved by many Christians and offers a beautiful look into how we can come out on the other side of our suffering healed and as more compassionate people. Much Afraid becomes something altogether beautiful through her painful life experiences and is able to return to help transform others.