Does Roland submit to religion as a guide to life, or does he use it as an excuse to fight?
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Roland's motive to fight throughout the book is largely secular in nature. At the climax of the work, when Roland faces almost certain death, his primary concern is to maintain his reputation. When his friend and comrade Oliver asks if he should blow the horn to summon the main body of Charlemagne's force, Roland replies angrily:
Answers Roland: "My anger is inflamed.
Never, please God His Angels and His Saints,
Never by me shall Frankish valour fail!
Rather I'll die than shame shall me attain.
The non-Christian Saracens are portrayed as bound for hell, and Roland does, obviously, invoke the name of "God...and his Saints," but it is more as an oath than any confession of faith. While steeped in a worldview that emphasized a divine hand in most aspects of life, he is primarily concerned with his honor, not an appeal to religion. The reader is caught up in a debate between the pragmatic Oliver and the honorable, if arrogant, Roland. By the time Roland agrees to blow on the oliphant, his fate is sealed.
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