Is it a funny portrayal of religion?
The story is amusing and entertaining, and one does not need to be especially religious to appreciate the humor. Thus, we may laugh at Jackie’s embarrassment at his grandmother’s habits, his interest in Mrs. Ryan’s half-crown (the equivalent of a large amount of money today), the priest’s prediction about how someone will go after Nora with a knife and not miss, and Nora’s bewilderment after Jackie’s "first confession." In discussing the causes of laughter, students should note the relationship of situations such as these to principles of rigidity and incongruity as described by Henri Bergson in his study of laughter. Thus Jackie in the communion class should be considering the state of his soul, but instead he demonstrates a little boy’s concern for Mrs. Ryan’s money (in this way fitting his rigidly childish perspective into a situation requiring thought and fear). In addition, sober and proper behavior is expected in a confessional, so that Jackie’s antics, so clearly out of place and inappropriate, are funny.