Clark's In the Deep Midwinter and Hansen's Atticus: Examples of a Two-fold Literature of Life
John Paul II's “Letter to Artists” identified two ways artists, particularly literary artists, can help reveal the nature of man to himself by showing both 1) the threat to human dignity from humans themselves, as well as 2) the possibility of transcendence and redemption as achievement and divine gift breaking into this life. We offer close readings of two contemporary novels as examples. The first way is illustrated by Robert Clark's In the Deep Midwinter, a novel at whose centre is an illegal abortion in the 1950's. We argue that the novel's portrait of suffering and abiding loss effectively shows the devastating effects of moral evil. The characters are conflicted in their desires and chosen actions, and they defend different positions; however, the plot in particular underscores the harm humans can inflict on themselves and others. The second way is illustrated using Hansen's Atticus. We argue that the character of Atticus serves both as an example of a virtuous Christian everyman and as an allegorical representation of God the Father. Redemption becomes possible for the dissolute son Scott when he turns to Atticus, his loving father, for forgiveness.