Why does John's father want to keep secret what John has learned about the Place of Gods in By the Waters of Babylon?

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Another reason John's father wants to keep secret what John has learned about the Place of Gods is to preserve the credibility of the priesthood, now and for the future.

Bear in mind that the people have always trusted the word of the priest. So, if the priest (who is...

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Another reason John's father wants to keep secret what John has learned about the Place of Gods is to preserve the credibility of the priesthood, now and for the future.

Bear in mind that the people have always trusted the word of the priest. So, if the priest (who is the de facto leader of the community) preaches a new theory that is completely opposed to the prevailing one, confusion will arise. In turn, this confusion will give rise to distrust and result in the fracturing of the community.

In the beginning of the story, we learn what the people believe about the Place of the Gods: that it is a place inhabited by spirits and demons. So, John's community both fears and esteems everything that is connected to the forbidden regions. They believe that any sojourn in the Place of the Gods will destroy both body and soul.

The community's entrenched beliefs are based on everything it has been taught by the priests. Knowing this, John's father does not want to upset the status quo too quickly. He prefers the truth to emerge "little by little" so that it is not a shock to his people.

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The answer to this question is linked implicitly with one of the central quotes of the play: "Perhaps, in the old days, they ate knowledge too fast." Note too the metaphor that John's father uses to describe truth:

Truth is a hard deer to hunt. If you eat too much truth at once, you may die of the truth. It was not idly that our fathers forbade the Dead Places.

It is clear that John and his father are not concealing truth as part of a despotic control of power - they are concealing truth as a measure to protect and help their people. Though clearly, the last paragraph of the story, which states John's plans to return to the city and discover more and to "build again", indicates that this truth that John has discovered will be revealed bit by bit when his people are ready for it.

I guess when you have a culture that has been built around central "truths" for so long, to challenge those truths and expose them as lies would have a massive impact on the people in that culture. Better, therefore, to slowly bring in a different way of thinking rather than force everyone to experience the dramatic, life-changing epiphany that John experiences in this story.

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