Blog #2 The Whale

Indifference

Through different character’s eyes, the reader can see how their position on religion shapes their lives. It seems that none of the characters seem to have much of a strong religious faith that they diligently follow. Looking at Elder Thomas and Alan both of them seem to have religion as a huge role in their lives, but neither of them played out necessarily to be positive.
With Elder Thomas, his character is a representative of “the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” (pg. 10) but as the play continues to unfold, it is revealed that he was kicked out of his mission for illegal activities and sent home. If he was indulging in illegal activities, how committed could he have been to the church, “It goes against your religion, and that makes you a hypocrite” (pg. 59). His allegiance is questioned and if the leaders of the church are not withholding their promises, what does that say about the foundations of the church and the faith? Who would follow a religion if the leaders of the religion themselves can not even do what is asked of them to prove their service to God? A lot of doubts about Elder Thomas and the Church he belongs to arise throughout this poem. This idea can be mirrored in modern-day America where many people doubt their faith in the Church and the actions of the church hierarchy whether it be priests all the way up to the Pope. The Church now does not hold the same values of dedication and commitment as it used to and with so many alternative lifestyles now, more and more people are drifting away from the Church and finding their spirituality elsewhere. Organized religion seems to be fading away and people seem to be finding solace in things other than God. Rather that is a good or bad thing a single person’s opinion could not determine, but it certainly does seem to be a significant different compared to religion fifty years ago.
Alan is a character that the reader never has the opportunity to meet in the flesh, but a lot is revealed about him, his family,and his faith. He was a devoutly religious Mormon, son of a bishop, and engaged to a Mormon woman but then turned his back on his faith to be with another man, “You think God turned his back on [Alan] because he and I were in love?” (pg. 79). This disassociation and falling out with the church spun him into a depression eventually ending up in his demise. How much of Alan’s initial faith was his own or how much of it was pressure from his father to follow in similar footsteps that he had? If Alan’s ultimate life decision, to come out as gay and date another man, contrasted his religion so much that it is hard to believe that he was ever fully invested in the religion and what it stood for. Translated to modern-day America, I think many people join the religions of their parents and don’t necessarily think of the responsibilities that they are taking on and commitment they are making. For this reason, people may be committed to a particular religion when they are younger but as they age and form their own opinions, they drift away from this religion but have already made the decision to dedicate their lives to it. This can end up creating a faulty foundation causing many issues for the religion as a whole and the way it’s followers view it down the road.

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2 thoughts on “Blog #2 The Whale

  1. Julianne – I really like how you extrapolate the points you make about religion in “The Whale” to modern-day America. I can especially see how the reader’s doubt or dislike of Elder Thomas plays into religion today. What do you think it means that Elder Thomas had a happy ending when he rediscovered his faith? Do you think this supports your point that religion has become corrupted and lacking in commitment/dedication or does it mean something different about religion today?

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  2. Actually, I’m a little confused about the references to “modern-day America.” The play is set in the present, so Hunter seems to be commenting on the state of religion in the US today, right now. To that end, what do you think Hunter implies has corrupted religion? What kind of corruption is it?

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