The Lilies of the Field

by William E. Barrett
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What is the symbolism in The Lilies of the Field?

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In order to understand the rich and beautiful symbolism in William E. Barrett’s novel The Lilies of the Field , it is important to read the text of the Biblical reference from which the title is derived. In Matthew 6:25-34 (one of the four Gospels in the New Testament),...

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In order to understand the rich and beautiful symbolism in William E. Barrett’s novel The Lilies of the Field, it is important to read the text of the Biblical reference from which the title is derived. In Matthew 6:25-34 (one of the four Gospels in the New Testament), Jesus tells us not to be overcome with worry about the things we need. Just as God provides for wild animals and plants, He will provide for us.

In lines 28 and 29 Jesus says, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” The lilies of the field neither work nor spin thread (to make clothes for themselves), yet the beauty of their “clothing” surpasses even that of magnificent King Solomon in his finest royal garments. Jesus personifies the lilies in order to emphasize his point that God does and will provide.

The nuns in The Lilies of the Field live simple and modest lives. Their financial resources are very limited. They entrust their need for a place of worship to God. When Homer comes along and helps them, it is as if God has kept the promise Jesus speaks of in the passage.

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