It comes as no surprise that the thematic bulk of Walter M. Miller Jr.'s A Canticle for Leibowitz is drawn from traditional Christian mythology and lore. Age-old Catholic hierarchy, the Latin language and Biblical quotations are used liberally to set an appropriately pious scene. From its beginning to its end, the presence of nuclear weaponry in A Canticle for Leibowitz causes such classical Christian images, stories and conventions to be inverted. These reversals often take the shape of malevolent or demonic influences, further strengthening Miller's overall message that, at its heart, nuclear warfare is unconscionable.
[...] The Bible holds that all men are judged by this law, but the doctor's assertion (and a vast majority of society's implied agreement) places post- nuclear mankind in conflict with Church tradition, and by extension in conflict with the teachings of the Judeo-Christian God. A composite face seen outside one euthanasia camp further symbolizes the growing conflict between God's teachings and Man's reality. The face is a conglomeration of thousands of hopeful, kind faces specially selected to invoke an emotion is seen to be written underneath) in the person who sees it. [...]
[...] It is subsequently revealed that Zerchi always possessed a temper, but that a monastic abbot would “violate the spirit of the Fifth Commandment in thought and deed” (Miller, 321)—and that the Pope earlier “ceased to pray for peace” and instead chanted the “Mass Against the Heathen” (Miller, 308)—insinuates a moral chaos which Lucifer's newfound fall has clearly spread, even throughout the Godly, in its wake. One cannot see anything but the monopoly of Hell in the final pages of the third novella; in fact, the mood is so bleak one wonders if the title, “Fiat Voluntas or Will Be Done” (Miller, 241) could possibly refer to anyone but Satan. [...]
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