William Gage. “For This Child I Prayed.” 2015. See here to buy the story.
“For This Child I Prayed” is a short story about the biblical story
of Hannah in the Bible. Hannah is barren and prays to God for a child,
and God blesses her with Samuel.
There were parts of Gage’s retelling that I particularly liked:
Hannah thinking about how her life was not exactly how she envisioned it
when she first married Elkanah and was looking forward to children; the
children begging to hear Bible stories; and Eli no longer officially
serving as priest yet giving the sanctuary a certain dignity with his
presence. The story also effectively portrayed Hannah’s loneliness
during the festivals because she did not have a child.
I was a bit dissatisfied with the story’s portrayal of the
relationship between Hannah and her husband Elkanah. In the Bible, in I
Samuel 1:5, we read that Elkanah gave Hannah a double portion and loved
her, even though God closed her womb. A few verses later, Elkanah is
upset because Hannah is not eating, and he asks Hannah if he is not
worth more than seven sons. Elkanah’s favoritism towards Hannah may
have been one reason that his other wife, Peninnah, taunted Hannah for
being barren. In Gage’s short story, however, Elkanah does not appear
to me to be as sensitive, supportive, or loving towards Hannah as he is
in the Bible. They do have a romance that goes back a long time in
Gage’s story, and that was sweet, plus Elkanah gets Hannah a dog so that
she would be less lonely. But, overall, Elkanah does not shine in
Gage’s story. Elkanah strikes me as rather cold and insensitive towards
Something else that dissatisfied me about Gage’s short story was that
it did not really go into the political situation in the time of
Hannah. The priesthood was corrupt, and the Philistines were a threat
to Israel. These things are arguably relevant to the birth of Samuel,
for Hannah’s joyful prayer in I Samuel 2 says that Samuel’s birth
relates to the dethroning of princes and the lifting up of the needy.
Gage did present Hannah as sacrificing her son when she fulfilled her
vow of giving him to the Tabernacle, but I wish that he had explained
more what the sacrifice was for: so that Samuel would become a leader of
Israel, one who would deliver Israel from afflictions.
I give this story 3.5 stars. 3 is too low because it did have
excellent scenes, but 4 is too high because I was hoping for more depth.
The author asked me to write a review of his short story, and I thank him for doing so.
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