The Religious Motif

In The Familiar, I found that one of the most prominent themes is religion. Several characters share their personal beliefs regarding the idea of faith, god, and religion. Xanther mentioned several times that the Ibrahims don’t believe in heaven or God. Astair, who has a background in the Catholic Church, wrote her thesis on the necessity of God but was given a poor grade. I don’t think this is a coincidence.

Another example is Luther. In class we discussed the significance of this name—it is possibly derived from Martin Luther, an important figure in the Protestant Reformation. Additionally, there was a scene where Luther walked on water which (I believe) drew comparisons between Luther and a Christ-like figure.

Along the same lines, I find it interesting that Anwar designs videogames. Game designers and programmers have the ability to fully render an alternate reality. They can create an entire world and people to inhabit them. And they can make them look, act, or be anything they want. To me, this is something only a figure with supreme authority can accomplish.

With that said, I’d like to offer my take on why Danielewsky features this motif so heavily. I believe Danielewsky is presenting his perspective on the digital age. He is criticizing the fact that with today’s advanced technology, faith is not as important as it used to be. And in the future, the institution of religion or faith-based groups will be an artifact of today’s society.

Now, my main question is what his reason for doing this? Are politics a central conflict in The Familiar? I’d like to hear others’ opinions.


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