Damnation Of Theron Ware The real issues in the damnation of Theron ware are not issues of religion, but rather cultural issues. Although the book is outwardly a novel about religion, the question becomes not whether god exists, but how we should live. Theron becomes damned in the novel because of what he is. Theron cannot be anymore than what he is, a simple Methodist minister, yet when he is shown another way of life, he wants to enter. The problems that Theron is having in the novel reflect questions that people were having on religious issues at the time.
There is at this point, a conflict between traditional beliefs, such as Methodism, and new ideas. Each of the old beliefs and new ideas take form in this novel through on of the characters, and it is through character development, especially Therons, that we see the conflict being argued out and solved. Though Theron is the minister, throughout the book he is shown as wanting something more. Even in the first scene in which we meet him, he is wishing that he had received a better position in the church, perhaps a better appointment in a city, rather than a rural town. It appears to me that the conflict within Theron is a conflict of the old ways verses a modern life. The city symbolizes the new and the free, while the rural town, in which Theron is stuck, symbolizes the traditional beliefs.
Just as, for most of the novel, Theron is stuck in the rural town, he is also stuck within his beliefs. Though he wants more, it is impossible. Theron tries to enter another way of life, which is shown to him by Celia, father Forbes, and dr. Ledsmar, but when he attempts to enter this world that they exist in, he is considered a “bore.” In other words, Theron would appear to be in a no-win situation. Just as Theron is stuck in this no-win situation, it would appear that the Methodist church is stuck in it, as well. It is apparent that some of the younger members of the church would like change, however, they are unable, for various reasons, to affect it. Although culture seems to be moving ahead at full force, the church seems to be stuck in the past. The differences between the catholic and the Methodist church can reveal this.
The Catholic Church has organ music, has play, and has drinking, as is seen at the catholic picnic being held at the same time as the Methodist camp. Theron, like society, however, does not want to five up his religion to enter a new life, but instead he wants to incorporate the two. This eventually leads to Therons breakdown and near death experience at the end of the novel. At the opposite pole of Theron stand Dr. Ledsmar and father Forbes. These two men seem to represent a new society, advanced science and religion that reflect the changing and advancing world in which they live.
While the Methodist church focuses on non-intellectual issues, morality, externals and appearances, the Catholic Church seems to be focused more in the real world. In father Forbes, we see that it is possible for religion and knowledge to merge, but at the same time are faced with the fact that if unchecked, science could very possibly wipe out religion. Although father Forbes is a priest, he is no longer preaching, and seems to have almost entirely let go of religion, instead pursuing science and learning and fulfilling only a perfunctory role in the church. This seems to reflect the growing change in the role of the church in peoples lives. In a world that is striving to become more equal, the methodist church seems to be very concerned about money. It is mentioned several times that the pews in the methodist church are sold or rented to the highest bidder, and in the church, money is clout, as is eveidenced by the control that the wealthy church members hold in any debate about changing the church.
On the other hand, father forbes is a wealthy man, yet within his glamorous church, it would seem that no one is turned away. In fact, father forbes is introduced to us while visiting a very poor man on his deathbed. This fact is even more important when we consider that the catholic church has a reputaion of following rules of hierarchy, while the methodist church, in appying the names “brother” and “sister,” imply that everyone is equal. It is truly this “new society” that is represented by Dr. Ledsmar and Father Forbes that is the downfall and the damnation of theron.
Although Celia plays a part in this downfall, it is not his love for her that damns him, it is the society that hse rempresents. Celia is just one more facet of the other world that Theron cant have. In many ways, celia is an enigma. She lives seemingly without a care, doing what she wishes without fear of harm or repercussion. It is this freedom that draws Theron to her.
When he sees her at the deathbead of the irishman, it is as if she is an apparition, or an angel, it is so striking the fact that she does not belong there. Additionally, though she is just a girl, she seems to have rule over the entire household, keeping her own space, schedual, and activities, which others are not allowed to question. It seems that theron admires her for this, and more and more patterns his own actions after her own. He wanders about the town whenever he wants, though he is upsetting his wife and failing to fulfill his duties as the minister. Interestingly, though, it seems that his desire to be as free as celia makes him more indecisive and unable to do what he wants rather than less so. He falls in love with celia as an idea.
While most m …