37 pages 1 hour read

James Baldwin

The Amen Corner

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 1954

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Act IChapter Summaries & Analyses

Act I Summary

The Amen Corner opens on a Black church in Harlem that doubles as a home for its pastor, Margaret Alexander, and her 18-year-old son, David. As the lights come up, “there is a kind of subdued roar and humming, out of which is heard the music prologue ‘The Blues is Man,’ which segues into a steady rollicking beat” (6). The congregation begins singing a lively hymn, and as they finish, Margaret takes to the pulpit.

Margaret’s sermon warns against spending time on the things of this world, including things such as playing card games or reading the funny papers. She says, “While you’re reading them funny papers, your mind ain’t on the Lord. And if your mind ain’t stayed on Him, every hour of the day, Satan’s going to cause you to fall” (9). She warns against driving a liquor truck for a living, which will cause others to sin.

Sister Moore, a woman in the church, announces that Margaret will be making a trip to Philadelphia to help at a church there. Sister Moore asks if anyone present needs to ask for prayer before they finish the service.