A Theme Of Faith And Religion In The Children Of Men By P.D James

In a world where there is no promise for the future of mankind, citizens question the existence of God and purpose of life as human race is on the verge of extinction. With no childbirths for almost 25 years, the world has fallen into a slump. Even the modern advancement of science and technology gives no reassurance that the fertility crisis can be cured. People have either turned away or to religion in dark times like this. But humanity still hangs on to hope in their own ways. In P. D James’s novel, The Children of Men, the theme of faith and religion is constantly present. It plays a major role in bringing together the main idea of the book, hope.

One of the many ways we see the strong influence of faith and religion bringing hope is through the transformation of the central character, Theodore Faron. As we know, Theo is no believer. He is an extremely self- sufficient person that prefers to be left alone as he enjoys his solitude. But that has turned him into a selfish man, always placing his needs before anyone else’s and couldn’t be bothered less about the world coming to a crash. He is content as long as his peace isn’t disturbed. That is until he meets Julian, a Christian woman with strong beliefs that forces Theo out of his self protective lifestyle. The first time we see a glimpse of real change in Theo is when Julian urges him to attend a Quietus service. After witnessing such cruelty, he decides it is time to defy evil and break oppressive standards of society and “He heeds Julian’s Macedonian call only because of his own revulsion at the Quietus, especially the clubbing of the helpless old woman. ” At this moment, we see a glimmer of hope that perhaps people are capable of change if shown the path by the right person. In this case, he is lead by Julian and her strong faith.

Julian is a moral compass to Theo. Through her faith in Christianity, that we gradually see seeping into Theo through his feelings for Julian, we witness Theo turning into a believer himself. Throughout the book, “Theo remains full of doubt even as he stumbles towards belief” such as, when he has difficultly believing that Julian is pregnant. Theo was very convinced that conceiving a child was unachievable. And when he is proven wrong, he realizes what a true miracle it is and how there is hope for the future of humanity. This is when we genuinely begin to see the sudden alteration in Theo’s personality and mindset. He is now more considerate of others around him and shows real selflessness, for example, him readily willing to die to for Julian and the safety of her child. And when Theo begins to quote Christian scriptures like “Nothing and no one will separate us, not life nor death, nor principalities, nor powers, nor anything that is of the heavens nor anything that is of the earth” when Xan and his men are closing in on him and Julian, he is fully aware of what he is saying and it shows his submission to Christianity. At the of his journey, Theo has drastically transformed, he has renewed and redeemed himself. But most importantly, he has evolved into a person of selflessnesses instead of selfishness through faith and hope.

A major event that contributes to the rise of hope is the birth of the very first child after almost 25 years. Julian’s child is seen almost as a messiah as “he will be hailed as a miracle” and be “the new Adam” which alludes to the bible as Adam was known to be the first man and the creator humanity itself. Referring the Julian’s child as Adam foreshadows that the child will go on to redeem humanity again. At the end of the book, Theo christens the baby “with his own tears and stained with Julian’s blood he made on the child’s forehead the sign of a cross” further implements the hope the child has arrived with in this world. The cross is a sign is a sign for Jesus, who was believed to be the awaited messiah. Just like the new born baby.

On the contrary, an essay on quasi- religious beliefs in dystopian narratives, by Natty Moore, claims that “By baptizing the new baby, Theo submits himself to a religious framework that, like western rationalism and intellectualism, has ultimately failed to provide him with any comfort in the face of humankind’s very imminent demise. ” however by submitting to Christianity, Theo has only embodied redemption of self and has realized “what is right about the life of mutual trust and solidarity” through faith and religion. And although there isn’t much that can be done against the nature’s unexplainable phenomenon because there will always be a “supremacy of natural forces over human effort. ” And all one can do is have hope. Some may find their hope in religion, like Luke and Julian as “praying keeps Julian calm and happy” while others may choose to turn away. But “lack of human hope and faith can result in construction of oppressive and cruel policies by the self-absorbed government” such as Xan Lyppiatt and his government.

In P. D Jame’s novel, The Children of Men, the order of the book starts from Omega and ends with Alpha signifying that the end of something can be the beginning of something new. In this case, a new beginning for humanity that started with the birth of Julian’s son and a chance for Theo to redeem himself by having a life that is meaningful unlike the isolated one he was living before. In both situations, the new formed ray of hope is evident. The creation of a dystopian society in the first place is when we see the loss of one’s faith and hope. And although, James’ s book is one of a dystopian genre, it is not one of frightfulness but one where we see the rise of hope.

31 October 2020
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