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Jacob Ritteman English 345 Linda Helstern 4/24/12 God vs.

Lucifer in Contemporary Times The world today is an incredibly dark place, and its easy to see religion get desecrated on many levels. The views and values of modern day people are, as a majority, executed in selfish ways. This isnt to say times of past were easy, and filled with good deeds, but it seems society becomes more perverse each day. People are not primarily encouraged to do good things, but are rather encouraged to excel on their own, to fight and best those around them. People are also constantly bombarded with temptation to do things which can be easily viewed as evil. In Dubious Battle by John Steinbeck and Christ in Concrete by Pietro di Donato are quite similar novels in the way in which they both portray the working class of the 1930s. Both pieces showcase the trials and tribulations of the working man, and they both do it quite successfully. However, with an analytical eye, Steinbecks and di Donatos novels share something else in common, something much richer. If read closely with even the slightest knowledge of religious concepts in mind, one can see the novels can be interpreted as religious testaments. They both tackle religious themes or messages, if you will, and it appears God grants Lucifer more allowances in modern times. To concisely compare the religious themes of both novels, it is easiest to focus on two ideas: the rebellion, the driving force of Steinbecks text, and Paul, the lead of di Donatos, who has seemed to take on the role of a contemporary Job. The rebellion led by Jim and Mac against the orchard owners can easily be compared to that of Lucifers against God. Both rebellions are an attempt to bring out a change in the current operation.

Lucifer wanted change because he didnt feel he was being rewarded properly. Pride burrowed into his mind, and convinced him that God owed him more than he had essentially, Lucifer thought he could replace God. In Steinbecks novel, Jim and Mac incite a rebellion in which the working men begin to fight for what they believe they deserve. Granted, the workers did indeed deserve more, but that is a different idea for a different argument. Mac is the character of In Dubious Battle who most resembles Lucifer. Their qualities are astoundingly similar. They both look at people in such a way to detect a weak spot; an infiltration point. Mac accomplishes this by delivering a high-ranking mans daughters baby. Lies and deceit allow Mac to transform himself into a known entity among the workers as word spreads about how he aided London, the grandfather of the newborn. After making himself known, Mac puts ideas into the minds of key figures: London and Dakin. Like Satan is said to do today, Mac lingers in the shadows, watching his ideas get set into motion. He waits, seeing the rebellion progress, and only offers input when his struggle for change deters. When he does offer this input, he, like Lucifer, offers reward. This is seen with Mr. Anderson, the farm owner, who is promised to have his entire crop picked free of charge, and also with the workers, who are promised their wages will raise if the strike is successful. Unfortunately for the men who deal with Mac, they end up getting burned much like those who deal with Lucifer are said to experience. Mr. Anderson sees himself a near-outcast, his barn burned down, and his entire apple harvest destroyed. The men see death, worse conditions than they already had, and, ultimately, no wages. As most who have some knowledge of Christianity realize, Lucifers attempt at changing the operation in heaven is profoundly unsuccessful. It is due to Gods power that Lucifer is not

triumphant, and he is defeated swiftly. In In Dubious Battle, the rebellion seems as though it will overcome the current standard. However, in the end, the unarmed mob is confronted with men in a highly protected Mac truck who are armed with machine guns. This can be seen as the human metaphor of Gods power: an unarmed man taking on another man, who is armed, with a machine gun no less, and is positioned in an armored vantage point. While one may see God as triumphant as ever in Steinbecks text, it isnt so in di Donatos. In the biblical book of Job, a man who is wealthy in both family and money is allowed, by God, to be tested by Satan. Satan strips the man of everything wealth, family everything. He so much as administers a painful skin disease upon Job. However, Job ultimately keeps his faith, despite all Satan has dragged him through. In Christ in Concrete, a similar situation takes place. Paul, the main character of the tale, loses his father. In the wake of his fathers death, Paul and his Christian family are left with next to nothing. They are without food and without money they are without the ability to carry on in life. To help his family, Paul embarks on a quest to seek favors. He unsuccessfully approaches local shops, and even gets turned away by the church. After these attempts, Paul sets out to find a job, which he eventually succeeds in doing. The job allows him to provide for his family. Things seem to be going well. However, at the climax of the novel, Pauls Godfather, Nazone, meets a gruesome end. In Nazones death, the novel reaches the same point Job reaches just before God comes to him. In contrast to the biblical book of ancient times, Pauls faith in God does not prevail. In fact, he destroys his mothers crucifix, and ultimately causes his entire family to renounce their faith as well.

These two contemporary pieces seem to portray religious stories of old in a modern context. Di Donatos novel implies that, in society today, Satan is allowed more allowances. Unlike the book of Job, God does not appear to Paul and reward him, but allows a renunciation of faith. These two novels tackle different aspects of the continuous battle between good and evil. In Steinbecks text, Lucifers attempt at a grandiose victory remains unsuccessful. This idea suggests that God has not entirely given up on the human race, but has given Satan more allowances. Indeed, today seems quite dark, and di Donato has crafted a piece which demonstrates that faith in goodness can be lost when a certain magnitude of bad circumstances builds up against a person, but Steinbeck showed that good will ultimately prevail in the end. Undoubtedly, a question still rises: if Satan is growing more powerful, accomplishing things today he couldnt in the past, is the future of mankind doomed to absolute evil?

5 Works Cited Donato, Pietro di. Christ in Concrete. New York: New American Library, 1993. Print. Setting: In Dubious Battle. The Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies. San Jose State University. Steinbeck, John. In Dubious Battle. New York: Penguin Group, 1992. Print. Q &A. Frequently Asked Questions. Church of the Eternal God.