Allusions to Communion in Literature

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The scene of Jesus and the apostles sharing their last meal together before Jesus’ crucifixion can be viewed as the men being unified for the last time. Food, meals, and the idea of communion bringing people together are some of the most widely recognizable motifs in works of literary merit. It is because of this biblical influence that a meal is considered to be such a significant thing and almost never occurs for no reason. When writing a meal scene the author is trying to convey a sense of unity between the characters involved. A meal or the act of breaking bread with another person symbolizes two people coming together, whether it be to resolve a conflict or simply as friends. Because the act of eating has become so ritualistic and personal, when two characters choose to do it together, it is always representative of something larger. Thomas C. Foster said that whenever two people eat together it is communion. It is not so much about the food itself, but the reason for the meeting, the character’s attitudes toward one another, and the overall tone once the meal has ended. A successful meal between two characters represents the strengthening of a relationship, while a failed one easily illustrates what many of theses character’s future meetings will look like. F. Scott Fitzgerald employs this tactic often in his novel, The Great Gatsby. When Nick first arrives at the Buchaanan’s house on that early summer afternoon, the audience is not yet aware of any unhappiness or discomfort within the household. That night when Nick, Tom, Daisy, and Jordan are at dinner, Tom’s mistress calls the house. Almost immediately the attitudes of all the characters change. As Tom gets up to take the call and Daisy excuses herself from the table, it is understood that dinner is over. In just one meal scene both the audience and Nick are given some insight into how their relationship has really been over the years. The overall tone of the dinner also foreshadows the tension and anger that is to come and shows the reader how disconnected all of the characters are from one another.

Other instances of authors utilizing this motif are:

  • The Awakening, Kate Chopin- The dinner party in chapter 30 can be viewed as a recreation of the last supper.
  • The Dead, James Joyce- Most of the story focuses on a dinner party. The isolated feeling described throughout the work matches the protagonist’s feeling about his life.
  • The Odyssey, Homer- Food and hunger are used to represent a lack of discipline and submission to temptation.
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4 Responses to Allusions to Communion in Literature

  1. 15lr says:

    I like how you fist explained the importance of meal scenes in literature and what they typically represent (unity, communion, etc.). It is interesting how you included the meal from the Great Gatsby. Even though it is not a happy meal, it is significant because it gives the readers and Nick insight about the Buchanans.This post highlights the importance of meals, and how they are almost always notable. To improve, maybe you could reference the media you attached.

  2. owenhern says:

    You made a good connection between the dinner scene from The Great Gatsby and the last supper. You also used an interesting and relevant quote from Thomas C. Foster that you tied in to your point well. You used good examples of other works that allude to this biblical motif as well. One suggestion I would make is to maybe try and structure your ideas into paragraphs.

  3. 15glh says:

    I like the connection you made between the meal scenes in The Last Supper and The Great Gatsby. I agree that in literature meal scenes are critical to display relationships between characters. I like the examples you used about the meal scenes being communions. This post could be even better if you mentioned more about the biblical connection between the two scenes.

  4. jteich17 says:

    You make a solid point about communion, and the idea of any meal being a connector between characters is especially interesting. How do you think Nick’s outlook on life and thoughts on the people around him change based on this communion? Think about adding a sentence to the end reiterating how the scene from Gatsby relates to the communion of the disciples in the Bible.

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