City of Churches
Donald Barthelme’s story entitled “City of Churches” is a depiction of futuristic lifestyle of religious people. The narrator of the story described the life and situations in an environment of churches and religious entities. Based on my own understanding, it is an attempt of a having a perfect nature because the people live inside the churches but there is always no perfection in everything that is happening around them. There is always a need of everything for there is no completion in whatever thing because it is a natural world that speaks of the emptiness and incompleteness of many.
Philip and Cecelia are the main characters in the story. Philip offered Cecelia the best accommodation that she could have during her stay in the city of churches but Cecelia hesitated to stay because she is “human” with imperfection in life. Philip told Cecelia that they have everything in the city of churches – all that a person could need.
After a long argument, Cecelia could no longer say no to Philip’s insistence. At the end of the story, Cecelia has no escape from the city of churches.
The main theme of the story is duty. As what the story is trying to imply, all the people in the city of churches have their own tasks and responsibilities towards one another. That is why no one is living alone. “That’s not usual here. Most people live with other people. Husbands and wives. Sons with their mothers. People have roommates. That’s the usual pattern (Barthelme).” Based on this part of the story, every thing is connected to everything. No one has the power to live all his or herself. There is always a form of need because there is always a responsibility or duty towards one another. That is why it can be said that he theme is abut duty but not only for other people but for the transformation of each individual into a better being.
“In “A City of Churches,” for example, Barthelme’s parable of aggressive conformity, country music has been replaced by the sound of church bells that demand assent (Waxman).” According to Robert Waxman, there is an impact of historical account that comes from country music and the novels of Stephen King. It means that Bartheleme’s attacks in his stories are patterns of historical accounts from the historical authors along with the use of religious perspective in a demanding situation.
In conclusion to this, I can say that the whole story discussed the impact of social lifestyle in Spanish culture. The catch in this story is the decision of Cecelia whether she will take the offer or leave the city though there would be no other choice waiting for her. it means that in the futuristic point of view, it will happen to the people who could not accept the fact of being with other people. Cecelia wanted to be alone but she has no reason of being in that kind of situation because she is “nothing” but a punishable woman with imperfections and sexual urges that blinds her thoughts of being a Christian in the modern world. Based on my own understanding, the reason why Philip does not want Cecelia to escape from the city of churches is the fact that Cecelia needs to be changed – her perspectives, perceptions, and lifestyle for it is already time to heal and understand that we are not alone.
Waxman, Robert. “Apollo and Dionysus: Donald Barthelme’s dance of life” Studies in Short Fiction. Spring 1996, http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2455/is_n2_v33/ai_20831946/pg_2
Barthelme, Donald. (2006). “City of Churches” 22 May 2008. http://trapoviejo.blogspot.com/2006/09/city-of-churches-de-donald-barthelme_21.html
Cite this City of Churches
City of Churches. (2016, Aug 12). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/city-of-churches/