If you haven’t read “The Great Stone Face” you should read it now. Here’s your warning—I’m about to spoil the ending. It’s a short story written by the Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1850, and it’s riveting.
Hawthorne tells the story of Ernest, a young boy who awaits the fulfillment of a prophecy. He lives beside a mountain that bears the natural image of a man’s face: “All [its] features were noble, and the expression was at once grand and sweet . . . The Great Stone Face seemed positively to be alive.”
The prophecy says that one day, a man would arrive into town bearing perfect resemblance to the Great Stone Face. Every day, Ernest gazed upon the Great Stone Face, longing to see the man who would bear its beautiful image.
Years pass, Ernest grows old, and many men claim to fulfill the prophecy. One built his life on material wealth, another on military strength, another on political leadership, and another on creative magnificence. None of these men, however, doubled the gentle wisdom and tender sympathies of the Great Stone Face. Through all the discouragement, Ernest’s hope remains steadfast:
“‘Fear not, Ernest,’ said his heart, even as if the Great Face were whispering him—’fear not, Ernest; he will come.'”
By the end of the story, after years of gazing upon the Great Face, Ernest’s face grows into its perfect likeness. Someone realizes this and shouts, “Behold! Behold! Ernest himself is the likeness of the Great Stone Face!”
Here’s your one-sentence summary of “The Great Stone Face.”
We become what we behold.