Religion In James Agee's A Death In The Family

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 prominent, effects of religion in the novel is the divide it causes between several family members. For example, after Jay leaves the house to tend to his father, Mary muses about their relationship after praying; “For she had never before so clearly put into words, into visible recognition, their religious difference, or the importance of the difference to her” (Agee 51). This is the first example of a divide between Mary and her religious faith, and the more agnostic ideologies of important people in …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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