Maria and Caleb have returned from Rumspringa; a rite of passage for young people of the Amish community to experience the world outside for two years. With Maria facing marriage forced upon her by the Council of Elders, the couple decide to escape from community. Across the border they plan to be wed in secret so that they can become closer to God. On their journey they encounter the wrath of God in the form of various biblical plagues in retaliation to their disobedience. Hit by a plague of locusts, they crash their car and are paralyzed with fear when they experience horrific visions sent by God. A horrific entity emerges on the road ahead and tear Maria’s tongue from her mouth, leaving her mute. Attempting to rescue her, Caleb has his eyes violently ripped from his head, rendering him blind. Having survived the attack, Caleb can rely only on his hearing to discover he has been rescued by the very people he tried to escape. He must bear witness, helplessly, to Maria's marriage, neither lover able to object.
I am using the story of the Tower of Babel from Genesis 11:1-9. Maria and Caleb, two secret lovers hiding their relationship from the community, have recently returned from Rumspringa, an Amish rite of passage whereby young people spend two years outside of their community. They represent the architects of the Tower, defiant in their actions. With Maria forced into marrying someone else against her will, they decide to escape from their suffocating community, to be wed in secret so they can become closer to God. Their journey to escape and live a life together represents the construction of the Tower and the steps toward that are the foundation. The injuries inflicted upon them are a metaphor for God destroying Man’s ability to understand one another. In the Bible, the project of the Tower had to be given up, what remained was burned and swallowed by the Earth. In my version, Maria is forced into marriage, whilst Caleb listens helplessly - a punishment equally devastating, but on a more personal scale. This split, and the division within the community, represents God dividing the world into different tribes and nations.
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