Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
The major Themes of the novel are ‘Search for Identity’ and ‘Quest for Love.’ On his fourteenth birthday John experiences a crisis in his identity. All along he had been expected to become a preacher when he grew up. His father had imposed religion on him and conditioned him to believe that everything else was sinful. John feels resentful towards his father’s attitude and desires to establish his identity on his own free will. John is also in quest for love. Denied of his father’s love, he craves for affection from others. Thus, on his fourteenth birthday, he expects his family members to wish him. When his mother wishes him and gives him a present, he is overjoyed. Later, he is delighted to gain the love of god and the approval of Elisha. Other characters in the novel are also in the constant quest for love and when they are denied human affection, they turn to god.
The minor Themes of the novel are ‘Wages of sin’ and ‘Power of religion.’ All the characters commit blunders and are paid for it. Florence deserts her sick mother and suffers a bad marriage and a painful existence. Elizabeth runs away from her aunt to elope with her lover, only to be left with an illegitimate child and uncertain future. Gabriel betrays his mother and Deborah and cheats Royal and John of a father’s love. In turn, his children turn against him and his sister threatens to expose his colourful past. Gabriel is torn with guilt and fears persecution. All these characters as also John turn to god, when they feel helpless. Unable to resolve their problems, they seek the mercy of god to improve their life. Surrendering themselves to god, they feel relieved and enlightened.
The mood of the novel is sober as it traces the evolution of John from childhood to adolescence and exposes the spiritual dilemma faced by all the characters that influence John. The novel begins on a note of doubt as John seeks worldly pleasures but feels guilty for his actions. However, by the end of the novel, John resolves his dilemma. He surrenders himself to god to guide him in life. His prayers are heard and he feels enlightened, after a short period of struggle. The novel ends on a note of hope, as John feels confident about tackling his life in the future.