What is an epiphany that Bendrix comes to, in The End of the Affair?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Throughout the novel, Bendrix sees himself pitted against God as his rival for Sarah's affections. Bendrix is a character who is defined by his arrogance. Since he sees himself as engaged in this struggle with God, he has no doubt that the present love he can give Sarah will allow him to win compared with the promises of future salvation and redemption that God offers Sarah. However, he is forced to realise that God wins in this struggle, and that God takes Sarah away from him. Bendrix moves from being an atheist to reluctantly acknowledging the existence of God, and is profoundly humbled as a result, even if his hatred of God and religion remains. Note how this epiphany expresses itself in the final paragraph of this excellent novel:

I wrote at the start that this was a record of hate, and waling there beside Henry towards the evening glass of beer, I found the one prayer that seemed to serve the winter mood: O God, You've done enough, You've robbed me of enough, I'm too tired and old to learn to love, leave me alone for ever.

Even though this is a rather depressing and sombre end to this novel, at the same time note the advance that Bendrix has made in terms of his character development. He has reluctantly been forced to realise that God does exist and he has also had his own arrogance profoundly challenged. He has been forced to see that God's promises of love can actually be more compelling than any romantic love that can be enjoyed in the present. This epiphany, however, is something that does not bring him joy, but only makes him want to have nothing to do with God.

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