In The Crucible, what are Proctor's two reasons for not attending church services regularly?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

John Proctor does tell Reverend Hale that he takes issue with Reverend Parris's insistence on having golden candlesticks when there were perfectly functional pewter ones crafted by a member of the community.  He says, "I think, sometimes, the man dreams cathedrals, not clapboard meetin' houses."  This indicates not only a concern about Parris's materialism but also a concern that he might be more suited to a Catholic congregation than a Puritan one.  The Puritans felt that Protestantism hadn't done enough to distance itself from the corrupt Catholic church, and so the Puritans splintered off and left England so that they could "purify" the church (this is where they got their name).  Proctor suggests that Parris's priorities are more in line with a faith the Puritans viewed as fundamentally corrupt.

Further, Proctor offers Hale an additional reason for his unwillingness to attend church services led by Parris.  Hale asks about Proctor's three children and the fact that only two of his sons have been christened.  Proctor says, "I like it not that Mr. Parris should lay his hand upon my baby.  I see no light of God in that man."  Proctor doesn't trust Parris at all, and so if he cannot trust the man to baptize his son, why would he want to listen to him preach?

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Act II when Hale questions John and Elizabeth Proctor about their faith, Hale raises the fact that John has not attended church very frequently. John responds with a number of different excuses before finally identifying what his problem with the church is. He firstly says that Elizabeth was sick over the winter and that when he was not able to go to church he prayed in his house instead.

However, the real reason emerges when Hale pushes John Proctor further, and he admits that his reasons for non-attendance are based around the Reverend Parris and how he insists on the trappings of wealth in his church, as evidenced through gold candlesticks. This is something that John finds difficult when he tries to pray:

It hurt my prayer, sir, it hurt my prayer. I think, sometimes, the man dreams cathedrals, not clapboard meetin' houses.

This quote identifies that there is a personal problem between Parris and Proctor, and that Proctor objects to the rather grandiose ideas and approaches of Parris. This is the real reason why he has not been attending church as frequently as was expected in that time.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team