How can the relationship between Wiltshire and religion be qualified in Robert Louis Stevenson's story?

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In The Beach of Falesa, Wiltshire views religion from a non-conformist and slightly cynical standpoint. One gets the idea that he's not especially enthused about organized Christianity, nor does he harbor any illusions about the efficacy of religious orthodoxy. Although he is not immune to the trappings of organized religion (in the story, he is drawn to the melodious sounds of hymn-singing), Wiltshire despises religious hypocrisy. Rather, he is a plain-spoken man who prefers to let his actions speak for itself.

In the story, Wiltshire is an English copra trader who has just disembarked on the island of Falesa. He is a calculating businessman and aims to profit from his trade business. However, upon arrival at the island, he is accosted by Case, another fellow trader. Case encourages Wiltshire to think about getting a wife; as supposed proof of his solicitude, Case dangles Uma (a pretty, island girl) before Wiltshire. As the courtship continues, Uma becomes more infatuated with her new fiance.

Wiltshire and Uma eventually marry in a non-binding marriage ceremony. However, Wiltshire admits that his conscience gives him no peace; he knows that, as an accessory to the deception, he is taking advantage of a trusting, illiterate island girl.

 

A nice paper to put in a girl's hand and see her hide away like gold. A man might easily feel cheap for less. But it was the practice in these parts, and (as I told myself) not the least the fault of us white men, but of the missionaries. If they had let the natives be, I had never needed this deception, but taken all the wives I wished, and left them when I pleased, with a clear conscience.

The above passage nicely describes Wiltshire's religious views. He is disgusted by the hypocrisy of the missionaries, who, in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety, deem it permissible to solemnize and legitimize sexual dalliances with spurious marriage documents. Wiltshire contends that, if the missionaries had respected the traditions of the natives, he would not be assaulted by a guilty conscience for deceiving Uma.

Eventually, Wiltshire does fall in love with Uma, and he aims to make their marriage legal. To do so, he enlists the help of the missionary, Tarleton. Although he is under no illusions about Tarleton's opinion of him, Wiltshire allows the missionary to preside over his marriage to Uma.

 

This was the first time, in all my years in the Pacific, I had ever exchanged two words with any missionary, let alone asked one for a favour. I didn't like the lot, no trader does; they look down upon us, and make no concealment; and, besides, they're partly Kanakaised, and suck up with natives instead of with other white men like themselves.

In legally marrying Uma, Wiltshire demonstrates his personal integrity, which contrasts with the hypocrisy of the missionaries. So, Wiltshire's stance toward organized religion can be qualified as non-conformist and cynical; however, as a man of integrity, he does live under a strict moral code that prevents him from taking advantage of the less fortunate.

 

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