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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 225

As For Me and My House by Sinclair Ross is a book that explores the intersection of religion, art, and marriage.

The novel takes the form of the diary of Mrs. Bentley: a Protestant minister's wife. In this epistolary novel, the narrator is pessimistic and has a poor self-image. She...

(The entire section contains 513 words.)

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As For Me and My House by Sinclair Ross is a book that explores the intersection of religion, art, and marriage.

The novel takes the form of the diary of Mrs. Bentley: a Protestant minister's wife. In this epistolary novel, the narrator is pessimistic and has a poor self-image. She is lonely and feels estranged from her husband, Philip Bentley. The couple has no children, and the wife begrudges her husband's dedication to his job in the ministry. She also considers his salary too meager and resents having to put on a front. Philip, however, won't ask for a raise, as he is committed to his trade passionately.

They have just moved to the town of Horizon, and we learn through anecdotes that the minister's wife has been marginalized in her role. For example, while chopping wood twelve years ago to make kindling, townspeople told her that she wasn't expected to do that owing to her social position as wife of a minister. She has since taken up a quiet life, though she once had a passion for music.

Mrs. Bentley is reluctant to bring her passion for music to her husband's career. Instead, she sees it as a lost pursuit and impossible escape. For her husband, too, it is a road not taken and represents the counterpart to the shared austerity of religious life.

Themes and Meanings

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 288

The reader’s understanding of the novel is dependent on his understanding of Mrs. Bentley. The first-person narration initially is limited to Mrs. Bentley’s point of view and makes it difficult to evaluate her reliability. Successive readings reveal that she is more manipulative and less self-effacing than she pretends to be. For example, in the light of Judith’s virtual suicide near the end of the novel, Mrs. Bentley’s guilt-provoking gift of oranges seems an extraordinarily cruel gesture.

The Christian overtones of the novel, which are emphasized by the biblical source of its title, dominate the concluding pages. The emergence of comedy in the diary’s final entry marks a radical shift in the novel’s emotional tenor. The comedy which concludes the Bentleys’ year of suffering in Horizon is of the nature of Christian divine comedy. Judith’s death near Easter time, precipitated by her own tormented wanderings, is a sacrifice which expiates the sins of all. Even the townspeople, whom the Bentleys had resented, seem transfigured as they assemble on the train platform to say farewell to their pastor and his wife. Judith’s child functions as a generative counterpart of the Christian Resurrection, the triumph over death which symbolizes hope to mankind. The theme of atonement and renewal is powerfully evoked in the concrete image of father and son which concludes the narrative: “Philip just stands and looks and looks at him, and puts his cheek down close to the little hands, and tells me that way how much I must forget.... He doesn’t look like Philip yet, but Philip I’ll swear is starting to look like him. It’s in the eyes, a stillness, a freshness, a vacancy of beginning.”

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