In ‘The Angel’ the God of Christianity is depicted as a loving almost maternal figure that does not judge or punish the dead children but merely hugs them and turns them into angels. The Old Oak too meets with a blessed and comforting death. Death, for the Oak, is a return to the companions of its youth, a death devoid of judgment or punishment. In ‘The Red Shoes’ and ‘The Girl who stepped on Bread’ we encounter another side of Christianity, here the slightest moral failure results in instant and harsh retribution from God.
In both these stories the girls fall into the deadly sin of vanity. Karen in ‘The Red Shoes’ has to undergo a bloody act of mortification, but still redemption does not come for her, her disembodied feet still appear dancing before her. She is not able to experience redemption till her death. Inger, the title character of ‘The Girl who stepped on Bread’ does not receive redemption at all but has to undergo the ultimate punishment; eternal torment, which takes the form of her becoming a statue in the Marsh Woman’s antechamber, suffering the stares of other tormented souls, eternal hunger and insects crawling over her body. The concept of God in the last two works may be thought of as what people consider to be the idea of the ‘Wrathful God’ of the Old Testament, while the God of the first two works is the ‘Loving and Compassionate God’ depicted in most of the New Testament. In the ‘The Old Oak Tree’s Last Dream’, the concept of salvation through Christ is explicitly mentioned.
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