The Shack


William P. Young

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Mackenzie Allen Phillips Character Analysis

The protagonist of the novel, Mack is a nondescript everyman who has long struggled to reconcile his faith in God with the daily reality before him. As a child, Mack’s father, a violent alcoholic, terrorized the family. When Mack turned thirteen, he ran away from home after poisoning every bottle of alcohol in the house. Now living in the Pacific Northwest, Mack still grapples with those memories but has found great happiness with his wife Nan and his five children. Like Nan, Mack believes in God and thinks of religion as a major force in his life. Nevertheless, he can’t shake a sense of uneasiness towards God, and has never been able to call him by the familiar name “Papa” as Nan does. That mistrust is deepened when Mack’s youngest child, Missy, is kidnapped and murdered during a family camping trip. After Missy’s death, Mack feels disconnected from faith, confused about how God could allow such a terrible thing to happen, and wracked by guilt and grief. These feelings take the form of The Great Sadness, an overwhelming depression that keeps Mack from feeling or enjoying anything. Over the course of the book, he is pushed to confront his feelings about Missy’s death, and to challenge his preconceived notions about the nature of God. After meeting Papa, Jesus, and Sarayu in the shack, Mack is able to overcome his trauma and rebuild a loving relationship with God.

Mackenzie Allen Phillips Quotes in The Shack

The The Shack quotes below are all either spoken by Mackenzie Allen Phillips or refer to Mackenzie Allen Phillips. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Independence from God Theme Icon
Foreword Quotes

For almost two days, tied to the big oak at the back of the house, he was beaten with a belt and Bible verses every time his dad woke from a stupor and put down the bottle.

Related Characters: Willie (speaker), Mackenzie Allen Phillips, Mack’s Father
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 1 Quotes

“When we’re around family she seems to come out of her shell some, but then she disappears again. I just don’t know what to do. I’ve been praying and praying that Papa would help us find a way to reach her but”—she paused again—“it feels like he isn’t listening.”

Related Characters: Nan Phillips (speaker), Mackenzie Allen Phillips, Papa/Elousia, Kate
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

Shortly after the summer that Missy vanished, The Great Sadness had draped itself around Mack’s shoulders like some invisible but almost tangibly heavy quilt. The weight of its presence dulled his eyes and stooped his shoulders. Even his efforts to shake it off were exhausting, as if his arms were sewn into its bleak folds of despair and he had somehow become part of it.

Related Characters: Willie (speaker), Mackenzie Allen Phillips
Page Number: 26-27
Explanation and Analysis:

“Sweetheart, Jesus didn’t think his Daddy was mean. He thought his Daddy was full of love and loved him very much. His Daddy didn’t make him die. Jesus chose to die because he and his Daddy love you and me and everyone in the world. He saved us from our sickness, like the princess.”

Related Characters: Mackenzie Allen Phillips (speaker), Papa/Elousia, Jesus, Missy
Related Symbols: Waterfalls
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

As he walked between tents and trailers, he was praying and promising. He knew in his heart that promising things to God was rather dumb and irrational, but he couldn’t help it. He was desperate to get Missy back, and surely God knew where she was.

Related Characters: Willie (speaker), Mackenzie Allen Phillips, Missy
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

Turning his eyes heavenward, he began screaming his anguished questions. “Why? Why did you let this happen? Why did you bring me here? Of all places to meet you—why here? Wasn’t it enough to kill my baby? Do you have to toy with me too?”

Related Characters: Mackenzie Allen Phillips (speaker), Willie (speaker), Missy
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

“Oh”—now Jesus was serious—“don’t go because you feel obligated. That won’t get you any points around here. Go because it’s what you want to do.”

Related Characters: Jesus (speaker), Mackenzie Allen Phillips, Papa/Elousia
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:

“If you couldn’t take care of Missy, how can I trust you to take care of me?” There, he’d said it—the question that had tormented him every day of The Great Sadness. Mack felt his face flush angry red as he stared at what he now considered to be some odd characterization of God, and he realized his hands were knotted into fists.

Related Characters: Mackenzie Allen Phillips (speaker), Papa/Elousia, Missy
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

“For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest that you call me ‘Papa’ is simply to mix metaphors, to help you keep from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning.”

Related Characters: Papa/Elousia (speaker), Mackenzie Allen Phillips
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

So this was God in relationship? It was beautiful and so appealing. He knew that it didn’t matter whose fault it was—the mess from some bowl that had been broken, that a planned dish would not be shared. Obviously, what was truly important here was the love they had for one another and the fullness it brought them. He shook his head. How different this was from the way he sometimes treated the ones he loved!

Related Characters: Willie (speaker), Mackenzie Allen Phillips, Papa/Elousia, Sarayu, Jesus
Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

He let out a deep, heavy sigh. And if God was really here, why hadn’t he taken his nightmares away?

Related Characters: Willie (speaker), Mackenzie Allen Phillips, Missy
Page Number: 119
Explanation and Analysis:

“There is a lot to be mad about in the mess my kids have made and in the mess they're in. I don't like a lot of the choices they make, but that anger—especially for me—is an expression of love all the same. I love

the ones I am angry with just as much as those I'm not.”

“But—” Mack paused. “What about your wrath?”

Related Characters: Mackenzie Allen Phillips (speaker), Papa/Elousia (speaker)
Page Number: 121
Explanation and Analysis:

“What you’re seeing here is relationship without any overlay of power. We don’t need power over the other because we are always looking out for the best. Hierarchy would make no sense among us.”

Related Characters: Sarayu (speaker), Mackenzie Allen Phillips, Papa/Elousia, Jesus
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

“Your question presumes that poison is bad, that such creations have no purpose. Many of these so-called bad plants, like this one, contain incredible properties for healing or are necessary for some of the most magnificent sonders when combined with something else. Humans have a great capacity for declaring something good or evil, without truly knowing.”

Related Characters: Sarayu (speaker), Mackenzie Allen Phillips
Related Symbols: Gardens
Page Number: 135
Explanation and Analysis:

“To be honest,” said Mack, “I tend to sound justifiably angry when somebody is threatening my ‘good,’ you know, what I think I deserve. But I’m not really sure I have any logical ground for deciding what is actually good or evil, except how something or someone affects me.”

Related Characters: Mackenzie Allen Phillips (speaker), Sarayu
Page Number: 136
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

“It is your desperate attempt to get some control over something you can’t It is impossible for you to take power over the future because it isn’t even real, nor will it ever be real. You try to play God, imagining the evil that you fear becoming reality, and then you try to make plans and contingencies to avoid what you fear.”

Related Characters: Jesus (speaker), Mackenzie Allen Phillips
Page Number: 144
Explanation and Analysis:

“The world is broken because in Eden you abandoned relationship with us in order to assert your own independence. Most men have expressed it by turning to the work of their hands and the sweat of their brows to find their identity, value, and security.”

Related Characters: Jesus (speaker), Mackenzie Allen Phillips
Related Symbols: Gardens
Page Number: 148
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

“Mack, that’s because you’re seeing only the institution, a man-made system. That’s not what I came to build. What I see are people and their live, a living, breathing community of all those who love me, not buildings and programs.”

Related Characters: Jesus (speaker), Mackenzie Allen Phillips
Page Number: 180
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

“Mack, just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn’t mean I orchestrate the tragedies. Don’t ever assume that my using something means I caused it or that I needed it to accomplish my purposes.”

Related Characters: Papa/Elousia (speaker), Mackenzie Allen Phillips
Related Symbols: Waterfalls
Page Number: 187
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

“Forgiveness is first for you, the forgiver,” answered Papa, “to release you from something that will eat you alive, that will destroy your joy and your ability to love fully and openly. Do you think this man cares about the pain and torment you have gone through?”

Related Characters: Papa/Elousia (speaker), Mackenzie Allen Phillips, Missy
Page Number: 227
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 18 Quotes

Mack was amused. “Willie,” he whispered, “it’s not a secret. God is everywhere. So, I was at the shack.”

Related Characters: Mackenzie Allen Phillips (speaker), Jesus, Willie
Page Number: 243
Explanation and Analysis:

Mack interrupted with a hand on her arm. “That’s what I’m trying to tell you, honey. It wasn’t your fault.” Kate sobbed as her father’s words penetrated her war-ravaged heart. “But I’ve always thought it was my fault.”

Related Characters: Mackenzie Allen Phillips (speaker), Kate (speaker), Sarayu, Missy
Page Number: 246
Explanation and Analysis:
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