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Thomas Covenant and Christ imagery

 
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Nanothnir
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:40 pm    Post subject: Thomas Covenant and Christ imagery Reply with quote

Maybe I'm being a little dumb, but what exactly is the significance of the Christ imagery associated with Thomas Covenant? At the end of the first book, the doctor says something like "It must be hell being a leper. I studied overseas and you remind me of the crucifixion of Christ." At the end of the third book, Covenant is strapped to his hospital bed, and it is described as looking like he is crucified.

Lord Foul's Bane wrote:
Then the doctor gave him a ride in a wheelchair down to the discharge exit. outside the building, the doctor suddenly began to talk as if in some oblique way he were trying to apologize for not keeping Covenant in the hospital. "It must be hell to be a leper," he said rapidly. "I'm trying to understand. It's like-- I studied in Heidelberg, years ago, and while I was there I saw a lot of medieval art. Especially religious art. Being a leper reminds me of statues of the Crucifixion made during the Middle Ages. There is Christ on the Cross, and his features --- his body, even his face -- are portrayed so blandly that the figure is unrecognizable. It could be anyone, man or woman. But the wounds -- the nails in the hands and feet, the spear in the side, the crown of thorns -- are carved and even painted in incredibly vivid detail. You would think the artist crucified his model to get that kind of realism.

"Being a leper must be like that."


The Power That Preserves wrote:
...Covenant tried to take stock of his situation. His right wrist was also tied, so that he lay in the bed as if he had been crucified...


Hell, even on the cover of The Wounded Land, Thomas Covenant looks like Jesus, and the krill that is coming out of Glimmermere looks like a cross. It would look at home on an altar in a Catholic church.



Is there something I am missing here, or is the author taking a jab at Christianity? I know that TCTC is sort of based off of the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis (which have overtly Christian themes), and TCTC isn't exactly "Christian."
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 1:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thats very interesting. Its hard to see the connections with the Christ persona imho, though. Yeah his arms were restrained in a bed, not really like being nailed through your flesh to a cross and the weight of his body hanging from those nailed fleshy bits. 😬

Definitely got a stronger link with the book cover though.

Then the doctor comparing being a leper to being Christ. Mmm.. because of the level of despite. The degree to which he was despised. But Christ though despised by some was also loved and followed by some, or so that story goes.

Do you think Donaldson is taking a shot at Christianity.. well not that, thats hard to do, but how. That Christians or Christianity is hypocritical. Please assume punctuation as yes they are questions.

On a more human level, definitely... that people are not all good or all evil .. yes definitely.. that even the most loathesome human can make non loathesome choices, navigate their lives out of despair. The whole series spirals around this seemingly pivot.

Christianity teaches similarly doesnt it. Hope, faith, trust, love, kindness .. oh and sacrifice. These are themes Donaldson does seem to play with.

Is he having a dig at Christianity.. maybe .. maybe he elevates humans beyond Christianity, beyond religions and religious dogmas. That I could see. But I dont think he is paralleling TC with the Christ persona.

It maybe if you expanded your thinking on this a little more, how you see the parallels, that might help me follow your line of thought.

Yes CS Lewis was very religious , I dont see the same convictions being born out in Donaldsons work at all though. With CSL theres no denying it .. Aslan is the Christ in Narnia.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 3:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, there are other parallels with the Christ persona in Thomas Covenant. I haven't read the Second and Final Chronicles yet, but I've read some spoilers here and there. A spoiler is also on the back cover of Against All Things Ending. Rolling Eyes

Spoiler:
He dies at the end of the Second Chronicles (an act of sacrifice) and is resurrected in the Final Chronicles.


As for one of your above questions, SRD is definitely portraying Christians as hypocritical in The Power That Preserves when Thomas Covenant goes to the tent with the preacher in it. Despite them saying that they care and want to help people (even though they are basically saying that sick people are sick because they are "sinners" or whatever) they still mistreat someone who actually is sick. Thomas Covenant approaches them in a delirious state, and rather than show compassion, they threaten to break his arm and tell him to never come back.

It could just be that SRD wanted to compare Thomas Covenant's suffering to that of Jesus Christ. Thomas Covenant could be anyone of us, really, so perhaps he is showing the strength of the human spirit in the character of Thomas Covenant.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 4:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, SRD's parents were missionaries if I recall...

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So maybe that left him with some doubts about Christianity.. cos I think SRD shakes up the view of christians. Yes good point about the preacher Nano. Again more fuel for the anti Christian perspective perhaps.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nanothnir, remember that book cover art is almost never approved by the author and the artist usually only has a few pages of story concept to work off of.

Using your example, who is the open mouthed person kneeling on the shore?
Brinn? I don't think so. lol
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 8:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2018 1:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

skyweir wrote:
...Then the doctor comparing being a leper to being Christ. Mmm.. because of the level of despite. The degree to which he was despised. But Christ though despised by some was also loved and followed by some, or so that story goes.
I think this part about the rejection is a lot of what's going on here...
Jesus suffered "outside the gate" ...away from the comforts of human community.
He's described as "one from whom men hide their faces."
He's very identified with outcasts.

...and Covenant's leper-hood is defined by his outcasting and suffering.
Managing leprosy and losing half a hand are bummers.
But the major wound is how he cannot hope for human relationship in the waking world.
It defines him.

In the same way as the wounds in those works of art are "zoomed in on" and have incredible detail... in Covenant's life, and in the Land, much of the focus is on the pain.

Thanks for bringing up the topic, Nanothnir.
It's one we've discussed before, but a new thread gives us a new starting point for discussion.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2018 6:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually Linna, brilliant point about rejection. TC and Christ are both enigmatic icons of rejection. Mysterious perhaps because of the complexities of their suffering, their experiences and there shared shunning.

These two fictional characters do share more in common than I first considered.

There are some that believe Christ did enjoy human connection in his waking life, but there is little actual support for whether that is indeed so.

Are they both defined, in their despair, through their lack of human intimacy. Are we suggesting single hood akin to leprosy.. rejection. What if youre between relationships.. lol 😂 ..

But TC can hope for human intimacy .. perhaps not in the waking world, thats probably irrefutable, but he did meet Linden in the waking world.

Meh .. but yes he exists in perpetuity in the Land. But in the Land he does doesnt he .. and yeah it takes him ages to get there. But he does get there. So yay him. But theres more than the completeness intimacy offers him, isnt there. His relationships with the people of the Land, the Lords, the haruchai, the giants etc..

And he had relationships in the waking world. He was married. Had offspring. His relationships were not ideal lol .. well his dreadful ex wife Joan .. 🙄 groan, Linden Avery, her kid, Roger, parents.. yeah they all seemed to pretty much suck. 😔
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