What is the significance of the title of André Gide's Strait is the Gate?

The significance of the title Strait is the Gate is to point to the theological nature of this novel. The title refers to Luke 13:24, in which Jesus says, “Strive to enter in [heaven] at the strait [narrow] gate, for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.”

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The title Strait is the Gate is an allusion to the New Testament verse Luke 13:24, in which Jesus advises a questioner to

Strive to enter in [heaven] at the strait [narrow] gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

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The title Strait is the Gate is an allusion to the New Testament verse Luke 13:24, in which Jesus advises a questioner to

Strive to enter in [heaven] at the strait [narrow] gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.

This title points to the theological nature of this short novel. In this 1909 work, main character Alissa Bucolin takes seriously the idea that heaven or the spiritual plane of existence is difficult to achieve and requires sacrifice. She desires sainthood and believes that to get into divine union with God, she must rid her life of the sensual and the worldly. In her quest for a higher goodness or the strait gate, she sacrifices her deep sensual desire for Jerome. As she says to him:

My dream climbed so high that any earthly satisfaction would have been a declension. I have often thought of what our life with each other would have been ; as soon as it had been less than perfect, I could not have borne … our love.

The novel critiques Alissa's quest for purity and perfection as a form of misplaced theology that ruins her life and makes Jerome, who loves her dearly, suffer greatly. By sticking so closely to her ideals of purity, Alissa misses the bigger theological implications of Christianity, particularly the need to behave with compassionate love and let other people fully into her life. She tries to keep her love for Jerome on a spiritual plateau, but this simply causes unhappiness for both of them. Her "strait" path is an unhealthy one, one that was in Gide's eyes promoted by the Christian religious institutions that he rejected.

Ironically, at the end of the day, Alissa finds she lacks the faith she has so ardently pursued: she has missed the strait path.

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