At several points in the novel, John Grady
discuss faith, religion, and God. These conversations often center around God’s will, and how that will meshes with or diverges from human will. Mexico is an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country, and reminders of Christianity can be found scattered throughout the novel’s setting—the statue of Jesus Christ in the hacienda’s billiards room, the children in the street who tell John Grady to ask God to intercede for his affair with Alejandra, and the farmworker who prays at the end of a long table when John Grady joins them for dinner. In many of these cases, people turn to religion and God as a result of their own sense of helplessness, powerlessness, or lack of understanding. Faced with the mystery of death, unable to affect the success of the crops for a certain season, or confused as to why people act the way they do, the novel’s characters find solace in religion—which, in this book, seems to have less to do with the catechism and authority of the Church than with people’s daily lives. Religion, then, symbolizes the search for understanding amidst a surfeit of unknowns.