User: paul
This novel is an exploration of that universal dilemma, the angst shared across countries, across generations, gender and race, which is the conflict between satisfaction with life as it is and the desire for something more, and of the tonic provided by religion to soothe and ease the dilemma. Lagerlof shows both the benefits and the limits of religion in her portrayal of the hopes and trials of rural town in turn of the century Sweden. The people of the town struggle to live by the word of the Lord as preached down by their uninspired pastor and the local lofty school teacher. Bound tightly in traditions, restricted by the rules and eyes of small town life where everyone knows everyone's business, the life choices of each villager, whether rich or poor, are only as good as the neighbors judge them to be, and the only protection against harsh judgment is to do everything in terms of "As God wills." The ruling family of the village always fall back on the phrase, "[a]ll we Ingmars need do is walk in the ways of God " to justify their actions but what guidance does such a phrase really provid

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