A Fine White Dust Essay, Research Paper
English- “A Fine White Dust”
Facets of Religion
The novel was very interesting. It caused me to think of many ideas of religion and of the many processes of conversion. The book portrays religion and conversion to religion in many ways. It uses the various characters to show the many different possibilities that you can have in your religion.
Pete is a very interesting character. He has some interesting quirks; he first is strangely religious for his young age for no obvious reason. His parents seem to be very nonreligious so a possibility for his disproportionate spirituality is as a reaction to his parents’ lack of religious zeal. “I started simmering inside because they wouldn’t go to church with me, because they didn’t seem to care about heaven or hell or their boy’s need for religion.” (Page 13)
Pete’s impression of the Preacher Man at first before he is swayed by the preacher’s skills seems to be very accurate. He believed the “hitchhiker”, who was actually the Preacher Man, to be a member of the shadier element. Some of the possibilities he thinks of are an axe murderer or some kind of violent criminal. This at the end of the story appears to be the most accurate picture of the Preacher Man. The negative image of the Preacher Man is the most correct of all the impressions that Pete has toward the Preacher Man. Pete finally sees through the Preacher Man’s fake facade. Especially After he has had time to allow the effects of his religious experience to abate.
Pete is the main character of the story; the story is his discovery of a hero and his subsequent betrayal by this his new hero. Pete is an innocent and na?ve character he is easily taken by the powerful preaching about salvation and heaven by the Preacher Man. The Preacher Man shows him religion that is an escape from the horror and pain of hell. (Page 17) It appears that it is mainly a technique of salvation by fear; if you are afraid enough you will convert and be saved from the dangers of hell. This is a very two-dimensional religion it only is about you not about God. (Page 17) A truly loving God would not want his people to be afraid continually of hell. He would want us to be thinking of him and heaven.
The book also portrays religion as a drug or vitamin. That taken yearly will ensure good health and salvation. The townspeople appear on the outside to be converting during this revival series. They are only going though the motions of conversion with out any of it actually occurring. The people would faint and cry out with what they believed was true conversion; but it was only fake conversions so that they would appear as religious in front of their neighbors and friends. This portrayal is a very fake and false type of religion. From my personal experience you cannot be converted in an impulse of emotion.
The book also uses Pete’s parents to portray religion as an awful thing. His parents for some reason do not attend church and also try to discourage Pete from attending church also. (Page 31) The book never explains why his parents are not religious. At first it appears that they are only agnostic not actively against it just disinterested. The reader can infer from the fact that his parents have a secret and will not tell Pete that it is caused by some kind of incident like what happened to Pete. His parents are not very active in dissuading him from attending the revival but they are not happy that he attends his father is very disappointed that he got saved. The reader can infer that the parents were not interested in Pete acquiring any religious beliefs or habits. I believe that his parents also were disaffected by a person very like the Preacher Man and are now turned off from religion because of what happened. It would appear as if the father had been the one to be affected because he is the character that I noticed seemed to be the most disapproving and not the mother. His father seems to believe that Pete needs to be affected by personal experience because he is the one who suggests he should attend the meetings.
Pete’s mother is very interesting she attends the revivals on two occasions that we know of. She appears to be attending only to keep an eye of Pete. This illustration makes religion to be a plaything that requires a mother to supervise. (Page 50) “She was sitting near the very back, sitting on the far edge of the pew, like someone who has to leave early…Mother. For a few moments, I felt like I did when I was a little child.”
The book makes religion seem to be a complex where it portrays religion to be something that causes people to disconnect their brains. The actions of the converts are all very stupid they appear to not even use their powers of reason. They are stricken by fainting at very auspicious times. This type of religion is only a skin deep conversion easily shed the next week, day, or hour. (Page 51) “My body shook with joy and emotion beyond telling as I watched him. It shook with pain.”
Pete’s best friend also demonstrates a type of religion to the reader even though he is a self-declared atheist. When Pete rejects him because the Preacher Man tells him to Rufus is the most Christian acting character of all the characters on the book. Rufus does not dessert his ex-friend he actually just hides and protects his friend. Rufus’s religions is not actually ever stated it is just demonstrated though his actions. Of all the characters in the book I am the most admiring of Rufus because he acted exactly as Christ would have. (Page 81, 90-92) “Rufus. Old friend. I couldn’t move. Just stared at him, thinking I was having some kind of hallucination. “Come on Pete,” he whispered, putting his arm around my shoulders. “Come on and go home,” he said.”
The book shows a multiplicity of religion. It is interesting to see so many facets of religion at the same time. The book though I believe is trying to say that all of them are the same religion and you should put it all to together for a true religion that is what Christ wanted.