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The first thing that strikes the narrator of this novel when he sees the Abbey is its vast size and the way that it was constructed with symbolic significance, with the numbers of various objects and shapes each having spiritual meaning. However, at the same time it is clear that the Abbey is presented as a typical Gothic building with its vast size and many different paths and passages. What strikes the reader most, however, in the first chapter, is the way that it makes Adso feel as he contemplates this building for the first time. He is quite open about the fact that he is not able to feel any sense of warmth or happiness when he looks upon the Abbey:
I felt fear, and a subtle uneasiness. God knows these were not phantoms of my immature spirit, and I was rightly interpreting indubitable omens inscribed in the stone the day that the giants began to work, and before the deluded determination of the monks dared to consecrate the building to the preservation of the divine word.
The first impressions Adso thus has of the Abbey foreshadows the terrible events that will take place within it and also questions the purpose of the Abbey in being focused on the preservation of the divine word. Clearly, the Abbey is not the house of God that it ostensibly claims to be.
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