“Seeing religiously that his socks were always darned”: Serving Idols in As For Me and My House


As For Me and My House has been read as a documentary about the Depression, an unreliable narrative by a deceived and self-deceiving wife, and a narrative of gender, power, and creativity, to name only a few recent approaches. It has rarely been read seriously as what it purports to be: a story about the consequences of unbelief. Sinclair Ross had himself been offered the chance to attend university if he would commit to becoming a minister and had refused; his imagining of what such a life could become was the germ of the novel. I read the narrative as a sustained account of the loss of God in which misplaced yearning for the infinite (for an immortal art in Philip’s case and a transcendent love in his wife’s) condemns the two main characters to loneliness and self-loathing. Examining the novel’s biblical references and images-from its ironic title to its motif of idol worship-I explore how the problem of meaning without faith is at the heart of the novel’s resonance and enduring interest.

This article ““Seeing religiously that his socks were always darned”: Serving Idols in As For Me and My House” originally appeared in Strategic Nationalisms. Spec. issue of Canadian Literature 200 (Spring 2009): 56-71.

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