Theme Of Religion In A Death In The Family

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In times of sorrow, especially the loss of a loved one, some people turn to religion. In many ways, religion can be helpful to cope with a death, but other times it can be abused; used to submerge in and forget the outside world. In the novel A Death In The Family, written by James Agee, Mary is an abuser of religion. In addition to being used for self-medicating, religion is displayed in a negative light throughout the novel. An overcasting theme in many scenes, a disreputable view of faith is at the heart of this book. Religion is shown to be a destructive force in the novel by the rift it causes between family members, the negative portrayal of a religious figure, and the abandonment of personal responsibilities. One of the first, more …show more content…
The reader 's first impression of Father Jackson is a negative one: “He seemed to be as disconcerted and displeased as they were. He said, 'Oh, good morning, ' in a voice that had echoes in it and, frowning, glanced one again at the number along the side of the door” (265). In this passage, Father Jackson comes off as very impersonal and rude: “ 'May I come in? ' And without waiting for their assent or withdrawal (for they were blocking the door) he strode forward, parting them with firm hands” (265). In the children 's eyes, immediately following their father 's death, a strange man barges his way into their house, sits in their father 's chair, criticizes their behavior, and makes them call him Father. Even Mary and Aunt Hannah are revealed to have doubts about him: “It would be a long time before either of the women realized their resentment of the priest and their contempt for him” (280-281). After the funeral, the reader learns through Andrew that Father Jackson cut the funeral ceremony short, only because Jay was not baptized. In the following excerpt, Andrew rants about Father Jackson and the Church to …show more content…
Rufus 's thoughts in response to Andrew 's rant were written of as the following: “He was glad he did not like Father Jackson and he wished his mother did not like him either, but that was not all. His uncle had talked about God, and Christians, and faith, with as much hatred as he seemed, a minute before, to talk with reverence or even with love” (308). The destructive force of religion is apparent in this section; Father Jackson 's submergence into the funeral processions and Mary 's home life results in destructive feelings of hate from family members, further confusion on Rufus 's part, and an overall negative experience in the lives of the heartbroken

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