The notepad Godfrey uses to write down questions symbolizes an escapist desire to look toward other people or belief systems as a way of avoiding confronting hardship head-on. Throughout the play, Godfrey frequently pauses in conversation to write something down, especially when he’s having an uncomfortable conversation. It’s eventually revealed that he’s writing down questions that he wants to ask Father Divine when he finally meets him. This might seem harmless, but it soon becomes clear that Godfrey uses this habit to run from his problems. By writing in his notepad, he delays the actual act of dealing with whatever has just come up, effectively putting himself at ease with the idea that Father Divine will eventually answer all his questions. In this way, Godfrey doesn’t actually have to deal with anything himself. But when Father Divine fails to show up at the Holy Communion Banquet, Godfrey feels lost because he realizes he still has all of these unanswered questions. He even says that he needs Father Divine’s answers in order to “move on,” making it quite clear that he has devoted himself to the Peace Mission Movement as a way of coping with the loss of his wife—a loss from which he hasn’t yet managed to “move on,” since he hasn’t actually been doing anything other than investing himself in the idea that somebody else will help him put his life back together. The notepad thus represents the dangers of investing too much faith in any single person or belief, since doing so can take away the motivation to address certain challenges on one’s own.
The Notepad Quotes in Crumbs from the Table of Joy
GODFREY. You graduating? (Ernestine nods. Godfrey breaks into a smile.) Nah…. A first. You really gonna graduate? You’re gonna be a high school graduate like Percy Duncan, Roberta Miles, Sarah Dickerson, Elmore Sinclair, Chappy Phillips and Ernestine Clump. (Ernestine bashful covers her face.)
ERNESTINE. Not quite yet!
GODFREY. Why didn’t you say something?
ERNESTINE. Didn’t I? (A moment. Godfrey embarrassed takes out his note pad.)
GODFREY. … The New Day come?
Wait! I…I still got all of these questions I wanted to ask Sweet Father. My pockets are stuffed full of paper. (The banquet table is removed leaving Godfrey sitting alone. Godfrey pulls handfuls of paper from his pocket. Ermina exits.) But, he promised and now I got to wait another year before I get the answers. Oh No! If he is the God he proclaims to be I need his answers now, I need him to help me move on.
GODFREY. I’ll make a note to speak to her later.
GERTE. STOP! You’ve assembled lists that run miles and miles. There’s an entire closet crowded with paper and scribbles of things you need to know, things you want to do, questions that must be answered. It would make three lifetimes to get through all of it.
GERTE. If you’d pay attention to the world around you, you wouldn’t have so many questions to ask.