Men and Angels illustrates the possible consequences of parental rejection and implies that people need religion to be complete. The story begins when Laura Post, a twenty-one-year-old drifter, becomes a live-in babysitter for the two children of Anne Foster, who is writing a lengthy catalog on the works of the late artist Caroline Watson, to be used at an exhibition being arranged by Anne’s longtime friend Ben Hardy. Since Anne’s work is time-consuming and since Michael, a professor, is teaching in France that year, she needs someone to tend the children and the house.
Anne hires Laura because her original sitter has changed plans and no other suitable person can be found. Yet she takes an instant disliking to the younger woman, for which she tries to compensate by doing small favors for Laura, such as making her cocoa in the mornings, taking her to lunch, and baking her a birthday cake. Anne’s dislike of Laura is augmented by the latter’s religiosity and her frequent reading of the Bible. Anne, on the other hand, has no conscious religious life. She and Michael do not attend church, and she has never told her children, Peter and Sarah, ages nine and six, respectively, about hell and the devil, thinking these supposedly questionable doctrines might frighten them. While Anne is not an avowed atheist, her highest objects of worship seem to be her spouse and children, whom she keeps safe and secure in their upper-class home.
Although Laura appears to be mentally stable, her lifelong deprivation of parental love (especially from her mother, who seems to hate her) has caused her to embrace religion (of no particular denomination) to the point of madness. She has convinced...
(The entire section is 700 words.)