Treatment of Religion and the Church in Pedro Paramo and Fifth Business

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Christianity has become, in over two millennia, the world's largest religion, spreading to almost every corner of the world. Based on this fact, it does not come as much of a surprise that Juan Rulfo's 1955 Mexican novel, Pedro Paramo, and Robertson Davies' 1970 Canadian one, Fifth Business, are both largely affected by this pervasive religion. What is interesting, however, is that despite the vast differences in culture and time, a comparison can be made of the authors' treatment of Christianity and the church in the books, which both come to similar conclusions. The first major similarity in the books on this particular subject is that both Rulfo and Davies show Christianity and the church as being flawed. Father Renteria, the local priest in Pedro Paramo, is the town of Comala's sole manifestation of the Catholic Church, a position demanding purity and integrity. However, the death of Miguel Paramo, Pedro Paramo's sinful son, reduces Renteria into a cowardly and avaricious man "…too afraid to offend the people who provide for [him]." 1 Miguel Paramo killed Renteria's brother, and raped his niece Ana, and at Miguel's death, Renteria, who was performing the final ceremony, refuses to offer a final benediction. Later, though, Pedro Paramo offers Renteria a handful of gold coins and tells him, "Weigh him and forgive him as perhaps God has forgiven him." 2 Renteria accepts the offer and pardons Miguel, yet refuses to pardon Eduviges Dyada, a law-abiding good-natured woman who'd committed suicide, because her sister Maria Dyada did not have enough money. Renteria is transformed from a pious and devout leader to a man so steeped in sin that a fellow priest refuses him absolution after confession, because, as other priest tells Renteria, "A man . . has destroyed your church and you have allowed him to do it." 3 By becoming a priest whose services can be had for monetary reimbursement rather than genuine faith, Renteria is used by Rulfo to represent a flawed church...
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