Church towers in Private Peaceful symbolize heaven. This originates with Big Joe, because Mrs. Peaceful tells him at his father’s funeral that Mr. Peaceful is “up there,” pointing to the church tower, which Big Joe then innocently takes to mean that heaven is situated in the tower itself. When Big Joe’s beloved dog Bertha is later killed by the spiteful Colonel, Big Joe flees to the church tower because he thinks that this is where Bertha will be. It is therefore significant that when Tommo goes to France to fight in the war, the church towers he encounters are all destroyed. The warzone has literally eradicated the church towers, one of which hangs down “like a broken promise.” This symbolically represents Tommo’s lost belief in heaven. The things he has seen in the war have broken his faith, just as the war has broken the church towers themselves.
Church Towers Quotes in Private Peaceful
He told me once […] that your father was up in Heaven and could still see us easily from where he was. He was pointing upwards, I remember, and I didn’t understand exactly what he was trying to tell me, not at first. I thought he was just pointing up at the sky in a general sort of way, or at the birds maybe. But then he took my hand and made me point with him, to show me. We were pointing up at the church, at the top of the church tower. It sounds silly, but I think Big Joe believes that Heaven is at the top of the church tower.
I was once told in Sunday school that a church tower reaches up skywards because it is a promise of Heaven. Church towers are different in France. It was the first thing I noticed when I came here, when I changed my world of home for my world of war. […] There are not many steeples left now. I have seen the one in Albert, hanging down like a broken promise.
I looked up at the church steeple, a dark arrow pointing at the moon and beyond, and tried with all my heart and mind to believe she was up there somewhere in that vast expanse of infinity, up there in Sunday-school Heaven, in Big Joe’s happy Heaven. I couldn’t bring myself to think it. I knew she was lying in the cold earth at my feet. I knelt down and kissed the earth, then left her there.