Article Title

An Uninformed Pilgrim


Joseph C. Pattison’s article, “The Celestial City, or Dream Tale,” examines Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Celestial Railroad” and portrays the narrator as a Christian hero standing against the modernist persuasions of his time – a protagonist who enters the story with firm orthodox convictions and exits his dream journey with unaltered principles or character. However, Hawthorne’s narrator frequently adopts new modernist arguments and wavers in his pre-formed convictions. He toys with Christian faith but promptly discards any accusations of guilt that such beliefs suggest. While he repeatedly compromises his principles and doubts the ramifications of Christian faith, his dynamic nature is nowhere stronger than in the final scene of the story when he realizes the consequences of modernist thought. Here, he finally expresses true regret and displays his tendency to change – a tendency which Pattison’s article takes so little account of. Though Pattison sees this story as Hawthorne’s attempt to illustrate unwavering Christian principles, the narrative rather serves as a cautionary note to uneducated individuals, and a warning against shaky convictions and unfounded faith.