Tests in the Bible and American Literature

In everyday life, one is tested on various things ranging from school to family to friends. A test has been a part of existence since the very first people. In Genesis 2:19-3:21, The Bible tells the story of Adam and Eve and the serpent, where God tests man’s ability to resist temptation and faith. In Genesis Eve says, “’ We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, you must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” In American literature, there are many examples of test and temptation and doing what is right or wrong. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby, Gatsby faces the test of temptation. He is in love with Daisy and gives into her enticement by sleeping with her even though she is a married woman. Fitzgerald writes, “Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay” (Fitzgerald chapter 4). In this quotation Jordan is saying how Gatsby is willing to go to great lengths to be with Daisy. This relates to the motif of test and the Bible story of Adam and Eve because like eating from the sacred tree, Gatsby gave into Daisy. Him living across from her represents him teetering on the edge of resisting temptation and not sinning and going over the edge and giving in to his desires. Like Adam and Eve, Gatsby fails and gives into what he wants. Another work in American literature that represents the motif of test is Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This novel represents a whole other side of the test motif. In this novel, Huck liberates the slave Jim from his master and travels with him down the River of Fathers away from his owners in the South. Twain did not believe in slavery, and did not believe God intended people to ever be enslaved; which is obvious from other stories in the Bible such as Moses liberating Egypt. Twain writes, “We said there warn’t no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don’t. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft” (Twain chapter 18). At this point in the novel, Huck has seen the worse of man and their beliefs on slavery. He goes against society and escorts Jim to safety, or to the raft. As the quotation states, the raft is where they both felt the most comfortable, safe, and at home. Twain wrote this on purpose to show what the river represents. The river represents the Garden of Eden, a place free from the wickedness of man and the world. Huck is able to stay here because he passed his ‘test’ and freed Jim. Unlike in the story of Adam and Eve, they were forced to leave the garden due to their sins. This novel gives a new side to the test motif, one that is different from The Bible and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Here, the test is passed by not succumbing to society and their beliefs on slavery.

The Garden of Eden with the Fall of Man, Jan Bruegel and Paul Rubens, 1615
This entry was posted in AP Mindset, Biblical Allusions, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Tests in the Bible and American Literature

  1. anudaramola says:

    Aiden, good connection with your allusion to Gatsby and Huck Finn. It was very insightful. When writing this, was this the first media that came to mind or did you think of others? Overall, this was a good post with only a few minor grammar mistakes.

  2. justinhern says:

    Great job, Aiden. I like how you connected Jim becoming free in Huckleberry Finn to the Jews becoming free in Exodus. One question I have is: how do you think that your characters fared in their tests and how do you think the outcomes affected the rest of the story? Also, I think you could have chosen a better book than the Great Gatsby to demonstrate this point.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s