HEAVEN’S MY DESTINATION is structured around its main character, George Brush, and it is in many ways an involved and complicated study of an all-too-familiar comic hero. Brush is motivated by one outstanding desire, and that is to have a “fine American home.” His exploits put him in contact with people and situations that thwart his search; but through these encounters, Thornton Wilder develops a George Brush whom readers look at humorously and sympathetically. The reader would probably find Brush’s evangelism obnoxious if he thought Brush to be consciously hostile and aggravating. Yet it is clear from the beginning that George Brush is motivated by a sincere desire to do good. For this reason, he is pathetic. The causes of Brush’s misery lie in his own method of reasoning and coming to conclusions. He bases his principles on Christian morality but tries to interpret them strictly and apply them to all people—there is no flexibility in the substance of Brush’s ethics. He aspires by his example to change everyone with whom he comes in contact, and he is repeatedly shattered when people laughingly reject him. Yet the impact of their rejection never truly scars George Brush, for he bounces back for more, oblivious to the reasons why people think him such a fool.
This novel is quite different from any other Wilder literary work. In many ways, it is Wilder’s approach to immortalizing his own belief that eternity is all-important to...
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