Book 2, Chapter 25

Summary:

Theo and Rolf decide to sleep on the ground while the other three sleep in the car. When Theo wakes, Rolf offers him some tea. Luke and Julian are nearby saying their prayers, which makes Theo nervous as he feels they ought to stick together. Rolf asks Theo whether he is Christian, and Theo replies that he is not. Rolf keeps pushing, asking what Theo believes in. Theo says that the most important question is how one lives one’s life, and that it does not necessarily have anything to do with religion. He believes that today he exists and one day he will not. Rolf asks what the Warden believes, and Theo responds that he never asked him. Rolf reveals that he was brought up religious, but then he woke up one morning when he was twelve and realized he no longer believed in God. Miriam asks whether he believes in the devil, and Rolf responds that the Warden is devil enough for him. Theo walks toward where Luke and Julian are praying, beginning to feel irrationally angry that they separated from the group. When he sees them, he is struck by how much they look like children praying in front of a makeshift altar. Luke’s prayers bring back Theo’s childhood memories of going to church. Theo wonders why Rolf tolerates Luke as a member of the group; he does not really contribute much beyond making Julian happy. He speculates that even though Rolf claims to reject religion, perhaps he still on some level believes Luke’s presence will bring them good luck.

Analysis:

Theo and Rolf continue to get along better, and they work companionably to fix the car. They even find common ground in their shared rejection of the religions they were raised in. Rolf’s claim that the Warden is the devil rings somewhat false now that he has admitted to Theo that he would not really run things any differently if he were in charge. Rolf appears to be completely unthreatened by Luke, whom he often treats as a child, giving him meaningless tasks like sorting out the food. Rolf’s indulgent attitude toward Luke will later become quite significant, especially when contrasted with Rolf’s attitude toward Theo, whom he clearly sees as a threat. Theo speculates that Rolf’s religious upbringing has stuck with him, and Theo’s flashback to his childhood church shows that the same is true for him. Seeing Luke and Julian, Theo feels excluded, just as he remembers feeling excluded as a child in church.