Lit React ~ Analysis & reactions on works of fiction.

08 July 2011

(Short Story) The Blue Cross by: G.K. Chesterton

(Reaction) A Gentle Genius Uncovered by: Teacher Kitty

It's a battle of geniuses in G.K Chesterton's The Blue Cross. Each man had a keen eye for resolves to their predicament, a logical mind that sees patterns, connections, and asks essential questions that lead each to a resolve which they saw fit for themselves. But how did the common in them made them far different from each other? What lead one genius to his victory and the other to his defeat?

Flambeau wasn't an easy target. He had escaped ...once by a pair of nail scissors, and once by a house on fire; once by having to pay for an unstamped letter, and once by getting people to look through a telescope at a comet that might destroy the world. All these instances show his creativity for his craft. He did every escape only once, making sure not to leave a mark to be known as his regular finale. It would take yet another creative mind to solve the puzzles he left behind.

With no leads to follow, Valentin started his adventure when he ...coldly and carefully followed the train of unreasonable. Thinking the eyes of both pursuer and pursued have caught the same oddity, he resolved to strike at random. This kind of thinking brought him to more odd events which he took for clues. He found mixed up signs of nuts and oranges, rolling apples from a greengrocer's stand, a restaurant's broken window, and a parcel left in a sweet-shop, all of which includes the presence of two clergymen which brought him to the end of the chase where he fully understood how the crime was committed.

Father Brown had his brilliance masked well in his clergyman's outfit and odd mannerisms which brought Flambeau into disbelief that he was tricked by Brown, I don't believe a bumpkin like you can manage all that. He revealed his intellect when he went on to tell how he tested Flambeau when he started to doubt. A man generally makes a small scene if he finds salt in his coffee; if he doesn't, he has some reason for it keeping quiet. I changed the salt and sugar, and you kept quiet. A man generally objects if his bill is three times too big. If he pays it, He has some motive for passing unnoticed

Since Flambeau wouldn't leave any tracks for the police, Brown took it upon himself to do so. He did things that would leave the people talking about them for the rest of the day in every place they went to: splashed walls, spilt apples, and broken window. It's now apparent that all the clues Valentin followed were left by Father Brown.

Valentin, ... had decided that in the universal darkness of his mind he can only follow the first odd finger that pointed. We can infer from this statement that he thinks out of the box. Perhaps it's the reason why he was so successful in his investigations that they brought him respect from the public. What made him different from the other two was his heart of justice. He knew the man he pursued well, as he tried to look with a criminal's eye, avoiding the usual passages and places a pursuer may take. He was decided to bring justice to Flambeau for all the mischief he committed. Though Valentin may have a quick mind, he was but a follower in this chase.

The crime was very clear to Valentin that Flambeau, who was disguised as a priest, had been trying to steal the sapphire cross. But as Valentin thought about what happened that day like what everything had to do with a soup on the wall or mixed signs he thought, Here he had grasped the criminal, but still he could not grasp the clue.

Father Brown intentionally left clues that left a place talking about the clergymen for the whole day. His clues served as random inspiration for the Valentin who was in need of clues to pursue as he considered that, The criminal is the creative artist; the detective only the critic. He knew that he needed something to follow to get to Flambeau. He needed to have his eyes and mind open for any clue, sign, puzzle, or unusual occurrences that may be of help. It would have been so much harder for him to pursue Flambeau had not Father Brown left clues for him. Geniuses like Valentin have great thinking minds but they are also human who may need help at times whether it's an encouragement, praise, inspiration, or correction.

Flambeau was a master of deception and fashioning crimes though part of him remained immature. This lead to his vanity of misjudging Father Brown because of how he looked, calling the latter a celibate simpleton. I called it vanity because Flambeau miscalculated the fact that the man who was carrying the cross may be as brilliant as he is or he may be more cunning than him. He planned the crime having considered solely his own strengths. Thus, having what he called a celibate simpleton defeat him in his own game.

Father Brown unintentionally masks his awesome deductive skills with his clumsiness and humble priestly clothes. I guess it was his humility that strikes me most since a lot of the other geniuses I see in books and television may border a brute and a gentleman while others have really cool stuff or strikingly good looks; all of which Father Brown does not possess. His great mind was paired with a pure heart that makes room for forgiveness, compassion, and second chances. Oh you can't have gone so very wrong yet! is a statement that says it all. Flambeau was well known for his mischief and any man other than Father Brown may not see otherwise.

It was the good balance between his heart and mind that made Brown's victory complete. He neither ridiculed Flambeau nor boasted of his own intelligence. His brilliance was a fact of life. It was a part of him but not fully him. He was daily exposed to the reality of evil ... a man who does next to nothing but hear men's real sins is not likely to be wholly unaware of human evil? but knowing this does not stop him to believe that there is a way out wickedness for them.


This was a page turner for me. All three characters are geniuses and it was hard to guess how the story will end. But of course, only one genius peacefully put the chase to an end.

Other than the exciting chase, what have really left me thinking about this story were their differences despite having brilliant minds. I know a lot of parents who have been so obsessed about having their children assessed for developmental milestones or sending them to different programs to enhance their skills and talents to make sure they're on the path of becoming a gifted child or a genius not knowing full well the implications of the matter.

A gifted child needs more than reinforcements for skills, extracurricular activities, and other things that will keep their minds busy. These children also need nurturing, mentoring and guidance as growing individuals considering how much pressure they're in when diagnosed with giftedness. They need to learn that being extremely intelligent does not give them the license to misbehave or belittle other people.

Being a genius alone does not guarantee a person's success. Vision, innovation, problem solving skills, collaboration across networks, effective communication, and analyzing information are some of the 21st century skills that pushes a person forward to success. Neither Bill Gates nor Mark Zuckerberg finished college but both their names equal success because they pursued what they have envisioned. Both also had the integrity not to deliberately take advantage of other people for their own success as Flambeau had selfishly done.

This reaction is covered by a Creative Commons Attribution - NonCommercial - ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. All that legal mumbo jumbo just means you're free to use any part or entirety of this reaction for any non-commercial purpose as long as you cite the author. Creative Commons License