Muriel Spark reveals her characters not by the fragmented thoughts which approximate the human consciousness but rather by subtle, skillful, and carefully articulated analysis. Recalling his two-day escapade, for example, Freddy realized “more and more clearly as the years sifted past, that he had been neither a monster nor a fool, but had behaved rather well, and at least with style and courage.” The explanation of the consciousness in this rather old-fashioned, rational way means that the reader is far more certain about events and their effects than in many less coherent novels.
By writing clearly about her characters, Spark does not sacrifice complexity, and all of her major characters are complex. Barbara Vaughan is a devout Catholic, but she can distinguish between the essentials of the faith and the rules of the Church, particularly after her own Way of the Cross. In Jerusalem, she becomes even more aware of the split identity which troubled her throughout her childhood—half Jewish, half sporting English gentry. Although her conversion to Roman Catholicism would seem to have settled her confusion, as her acquaintances in Jerusalem point out, she is still half-Jewish by blood, whatever her faith, and her engagement to a non-Catholic further complicates the issue of identity. While at times Barbara insists on ignoring these problems, as when she rashly enters Jordan after unwisely admitting her Jewish blood, the courage with which she at last...
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