A Jest of God by Margaret Laurence

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In A Jest of God by Margaret Laurence, the reader is introduced to a small town school teacher, Rachel. Rachel is 34 years old and a single female taking care of her mother after her father's death. Through Rachel's eyes the reader is shown her thoughts, desires and struggles. One side of Rachel that is seen in this novel is the struggle with death and her father; Rachel approaches death as way out of her life, an escape from the "claustrophobic life" (214) trapping herself from being the person she wants to be.

Before the novel even begins we are shown a glimpse of how Rachel approaches her spiritual life and how death is an integral part of the way she thinks: "I was swallowed one time deep in the dark" (5). This quote from Carl Sandburg's Losers foreshadows the struggle which haunts Rachel from a child to the point in her life when she finally gets a grasp on death. Her life through her eyes seems boring almost unbearable at times and her fantasy of escape comes in the form of dieing: "Rachel Cameron says she'll die" (7). Her thoughts turn reality into a dream world seeing the children in the playground growing old "finally die[ing], the last dried shell of them painted and prettified for decent burial by mortal men like Niall Cameron, my father. Stupid thought. Morbid. I mustn't give houseroom in my skull to that sort of thing" (8). Rachel knows "[i]t's dangerous" (8) to let herself think these immature thoughts; She is a grown woman not a child. Her thoughts at the beginning seem to get the best of her; Conforming to be someone she is not happy with. Death started with her father and his business at the local funeral home. It was a business for her father and Rachel was never part of it: "This is no place for you, Rachel. Run along now, there's a good girl. This is no place for you" (124). Rachel was sheltered as "[t]he sign on the door says Private" (124), shutting out a child not really understanding death and reality. To Rachel death is not...
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