In Barabbas, the titular character is one who struggles with the internal and external conflict of faith and whether he should believe in the "one" who was crucified instead of himself. He...

In Barabbas, the titular character is one who struggles with the internal and external conflict of faith and whether he should believe in the "one" who was crucified instead of himself. He constantly had questions of what he witnesses and if he should believe or not believe in the Savior. In the book the author writes, on the day Christ was crucified, Barbabbas "had not wanted to come up here at all, for everything was unclean, full of contagion; if a man set foot in this potent and accursed place part of him would surely remain, and he could be forced back there never to leave it again". Why does Barabbas's choice to watch the events of Golgotha foreshadow the depravity of his own life along with society's which led to his demise in the end? 

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Barabbas's initial characterization, there is a sense of division within him. He watches the crucifixion of Jesus with a divided consciousness.  On one hand, Barabbas understands that his release came at the cost of Jesus's suffering.  On the other side of this condition is his own skepticism as to what he sees in Jesus's spiritual identity.  Barabbas lacks the emotional commitment and spiritual reconciliation to be seen as whole.  It is for this reason that he finds himself in an "accursed place."  His choice of watching the events of Golgotha is a reflection of a world where his own sense of place is lost and his own sense of identity is fragmented.  The depravity of his own being in the world comes with a lack of restoration and a lack of unity within his own being. While Barabbas "wants to believe," he is unable to do so because his own life has been devoid of the love that Jesus preaches is the necessary foundation for spiritual commitment and belief.  As a result, his life is one of depravity because he lacks that sense of restoration and love that Christianity preaches in order to fully find salvation.

This divided sense of consciousness foreshadows the ending of the narrative. In the conclusion, there is a world which has embraced the same sense of division that Barabbas embodies at the start of the work.  It is not clear who has engulfed the city in flames, and there is a lack of authenticity in who is responsible.  Barabbas himself has participated in the arson, but renounces his "Christian" condition when arrested.  His "crime" is not the arson, but rather the lack of faith and the lack of certainty in his own identity.  As a result, there is a depravity that Barabbas encounters in the world around him, a reflection of the same condition that he possessed in the initial frames of the narrative.  It is in this light where the start of the narrative foreshadows the end of it.  Only through the ending where Barabbas surrenders "to thee," finding unity where there was once division and fragmentation, is there a restoration evident.  It is only in this transformation when there can be a sense of unity which is intrinsic to Christianity. It is in this change where hope and happiness emerges from a world where there is depravity and emptiness.

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