Ideals of Religion and Art in Sinclair Ross's "As for me and my house"

Term Paper, 2004

14 Pages, Grade: 2,3


Table of Contents

0 Introduction

1 Cultural and regional aspects determining men’s life during the Great Depression in Canada

2 Religion and art as Creative Powers
2.1 Philip Bentley’s view of religion
2.2. Philip Bentley’s vision of an artist

3 Religion and art – parallels drawn

4 Conclusions

5 Works Consulted

0 Introduction

This term paper analyzes ideals of religion and art based on the novel of Sinclair Ross As for me and my house. The plot is set during the Great Depression in Canada and is about two artists that have been married since twelve years and presently live in a small town called Horizon. Philip Bentley, the minister of the town’s church, devotes his spare time to painting and his wife who takes care of the household plays the piano once in a while at home, but gave up her career as a musician.

There can be no denying the fact that a society and its culture and values affect and influence peoples’ life to a certain extent. Therefore, as starting point cultural and regional aspects determining men’s life during the Great Depression that took place from 1929 until 1939 will be dealt with.

At a second step I will have a closer look at religion and art as creative powers. Subsequently, an analysis of the novel in question will face Philip Bentley’s view of religion and his vision of an artist through the eyes of his wife, the narrator of the story.

In chapter three parallels between religion and art will be drawn based on definitions by renowned philosophers. Finally, as a conclusion I will sum up the crucial points of religion and art identified.

1 Cultural and regional aspects determining men’s life during the Great Depression in Canada

The Great Depression, also known as The Dirty Thirties, had been extremely unfavourable for Canada and the global world market. Due to a collapse of the Stock Market in New York in October 1929 the world economy lost ground and business activity fell sharply. As the demand for services and goods declined many companies faced bankruptcy. Moreover, a devastating drought, dust storms and grasshopper plagues on the prairies wiped out wheat crops and affected Canada’s farmers and the industry which just had seen boom times during the Twenties, when unemployment was low and earnings high. Canada’s regions had to cope with harsh declines as they depended on the primary sector, namely farming, mining and logging. There was little income for individuals and a lot of people lost their jobs. The situation of the people is vividly illustrated in Mrs. Bentley’s diary (Ross, 1989):

[…] So I’m going to have a garden. The way the wind keeps on, and all the signs for drought, it isn’t likely anything will grow, but I’d rather be out in the wind and fighting it than in here listening to it creak the walls. It's so hollow and mournful when there’s nothing to do but listen. You get so morbid and depressed. […]

The population suffered under these circumstances and people often didn’t know how to afford their food for the next day or buy clothes for their children. Mrs. Bentley cites (Ross, 1998):

[…] It makes me wonder how things are going to be with us. The crop is the town’s bread and butter too; and the first place to feel the pinch is the collection plate. We’re behind already with the car, and now that Steve’s her the store accounts will climb just twice as fast […]

A lot of Canadians faced starvation and even depended on government relief and charity. The following table clearly shows how per capita income decreased by provinces during these hard times:

Per Capita Income by province, 1928 – 29, 1933

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Source: Microsoft Encarta, Canada, 1994

The Conservatives, with their leader Richard Bennett, came to power in 1930 and promised to stabilise the economy and to free the way for Canada’s products on the world market. However, Bennett couldn’t convert his ideas into reality either, that’s why Mackenzie King and the Liberals came to power again in 1937. It was only in 1939 with the arrival of the Second World War when the country’s economy recovered as there was a demand for war materials. During the Great Depression the governments re-thought their policies and decided to regulate the economy more. The Bank of Canada was created in 1934 to manage the financial system, a social security net was founded, the medical system was created and unemployment insurance was introduced.


Excerpt out of 14 pages


Ideals of Religion and Art in Sinclair Ross's "As for me and my house"
University of Marburg
Canadian Literature
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
502 KB
Ideals, Religion, Sinclair, Ross, Canadian, Literature
Quote paper
Katja Burk-Pitzer (Author), 2004, Ideals of Religion and Art in Sinclair Ross's "As for me and my house", Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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