Enger's Peace Like A River Analysis

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Enger’s Peace Like A River tells a narrative through Reuben Land, whose perspective changes as he encounters several misfortunes. The Land family’s lives change drastically when Davy shoots Israel and Tommy, the town bullies, as an act of defense. Davy’s trial and prosecution result in his eventual escape, along with his attempts to evade capture. Throughout his journey, Davy Land makes substantial sacrifices before and after his crime in order to protect his family’s safety, ultimately escaping possible consequences. Davy loses his youth and innocence after committing his crime, negatively affecting his place in society. Specifically, the public’s interest in Davy’s trial shapes his role from a devoted family man to a ruthless convict. …show more content…
Throughout the novel, Davy subtly dismisses religion, especially after Jeremiah, his deeply religious father. Unknowingly, Davy’s father can perform miracles, such as when he commands Reuben, with his faulty lungs, to “breath,” (Enger 3). Jeremiah’s god-like abilities evoke questions about validity, which is counteracted by Davy’s skepticism toward religion. When Reuben asks Davy, “do you picture God tossing them out there like that or setting them up one by one,” (Enger 225); he quickly dismisses the question, replying “are you waxing poetic on me now,” (Enger 225). Although Reuben and Jeremiah are devoted to religion, Davy’s sarcastic reply to Reuben confirms his skepticism about faith. While Jeremiah survives through faith, Davy’s seeks practicality for survival in the Badlands. Specifically, Davy’s deliberate decision to live with Jape Waltzer, a foil to Jeremiah, reveals a major moral sacrifice. Davy’s desperation shows when Jape tells Reuben, “you are thanking God for the food when he did not give it to you…thank me,” (Enger 233). Throughout the dispute, Davy remains silent and allows Jape to interrogate Reuben, mainly at the expense of the family’s safety. Reuben’s close association with Jeremiah, the miracle worker, can be contrasted to Davy’s relationship with Jape, who embodies evil. The stark differences between the two relationships reveal a different system of values: one rooted in hopefulness, and the other rooted in survival. Davy’s shameful living situation shows his capacity to ignore evil, as well as the consequences of creating decisions without the guidance of

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