Thom Wiens and Pete Block
Rudy Wiebe's novel, Peace Shall Destroy Many, tells of a story that takes place in the heart of Saskatchewan and describes the problems of a Mennonite community. There are many contrasting beliefs in this Mennonite community. Beliefs about traditions, the Métis, and war going on around them. These beliefs come up within two characters in this novel, Thom Wiens, and Pete Block. These two friends have many things in common, yet throughout the novel, their differences start to shine through. Their beliefs start to change and their friendship starts to dwindle, although in the end they both discover flaws within the community. Thom and Pete share a few similarities, some key differences, and they both change their ways as the story progresses.
Thom and Pete show a few similarities, but they don't agree on everything. Thom and Pete, both brought up in a Mennonite community, have been taught the traditions of the fathers. Knowing eachother all their lives, they are good friends. They first both accept the traditions without question because the traditions are the only answer, they are simply "right"(5). Also, Pete and Thom both agree that war is evil, but for different reasons. Neither of them want to be in the army, because they believe in non-resistance (6 & 213). Both Thom and Pete also look up to Pete's father, Deacon Block. Although this also changes for both of them, especially Thom, as the story continues.
We are shown many differences between Thom and Pete in how they live their lives, and in what they believe and fallow. The two boys agree that war is evil, but they have two different reasons for this. Pete believes he should not join the army because he is a Mennonite, and Mennonites taught their children not to resist their enemies(213). He also has a lot of work to do on the farm and he can freely say that it would be against his conscience to go in the army (7). Thom's reason for not going to war was that he is a Christian so he cannot go out and kill his fellow man. He is aware of the misery of the soldiers who are fighting a "Battle of Freedom" for them, but perhaps a Christian is on earth for a different purpose (210, 212). Thom had thought about it for a great deal, and his reasons went beyond the mere teaching of the fathers (213). Thom and Pete also differ in what they think should be done with their lives. Thom thinks there's more to living than just work, like friendships (164 - 165). Pete Block never questions the ways their colony does things, he just plodded in his father's ways (165). Thom, on the other hand, questions the traditions of the fathers, and he see flaws in the Deacon's methods (165). He doesn't just believe that whatever the Deacon says is right (262, 263). This is a problem that leads to more disagreements between Thom and Pete in church areas. Thom wants to teach the Métis so they can eventually join the church. Pete doesn't see the point in that because they will not be accepted in the Mennonite church, the Métis are not like them and they only speak Cree and English (234). Thom thinks that there's room in the church and the language isn't the problem, language can be learned, but they need to learn to love (238). These two boys may be in the same colony, but their different views on life and ways of thinking make it harder for the two close friends to communicate with eachother (227), and it's starts to hurt their friendship.
Through the course of this novel, Pete and Thom's views on things and their beliefs begin to change. Thom has always been a thoughtful character; this characteristic is introduced in the first chapter of this book, while Thom was plowing the field (4,5). His views about traditions were, you must simply accept them (5). Later on, Thom starts to questions the traditions of the fathers. The thoughts had been in his mind for some time when, he asked Pastor Lepp, "Pastor, what are the traditions of the fathers?"...
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