Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 295
The Blood of the Lamb is a 1961 novel by Peter De Vries (1910 - 1993). Roughly based on De Vries' own experiences, it tells the tale of a family of immigrants living in Chicago.
The book opens with an exposition offered by its central character, Don Wanderhope, in which he introduces the reader to his family and the circumstances of its arrival in the United States.
My father was not an immigrant in the usual sense of the term, not having emigrated from Holland, so to speak, on purpose.
Indeed, as Wanderhope later explains, the accidental nature of his father's arrival in America was due to his inability to stomach a return voyage after arriving to visit friends.
Despite its comic overtones, however, the novel recounts a serious tale of how a family deals with a series of misfortunes while maintaining their faith; as Wanderhope notes:
What people believe is a measure of what they suffer.
At one point, Wanderhope questions the reason as to why God allows suffering.
What baffles me is the comfort people find in the idea that somebody dealt this mess. Blind and meaningless chance seems to me so much more congenial - or at least less horrible. Prove to me that there is a God and I will really begin to despair.
For Wanderhope, however, the tragedies are compounded when his daughter dies of organ failure, after initially responding positively to chemotherapy she had been receiving for her cancer. Wanderhope poetically describes this:
... borne from the dull watchers on a wave that broke and crashed beyond our sight.
Though the book is presented in the context of the sad circumstance of Wanderhope's life, he continues to maintain a humorous disposition throughout, quipping, for instance, that,
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
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