Johnny Belinda    by Elmer Harris

Featured in the 2009 Festival


The year is 1900. The setting, a lonely island northwest of Nova Scotia, Canada, where a hard-bitten race of farmers divide their time between fishing and tilling the stubborn soil. In the middle of this isolated environment lives the even more isolated Belinda, a young deaf girl whom the backward villagers shun. Having never been taught to communicate, Belinda nonetheless demonstrates sensitivity and intelligence, both of which come to the attention of the village's new doctor who then decides to teach the girl sign language. While Belinda blossoms under his care, and a love relationship begins between them, she still falls prey to a local boy. The result is a child, Johnny Belinda, and it is in defense of her son that Belinda kills the boy's father. The resulting trial pits the entire village against the girl who only has the truth, and the doctor's love, on her side.