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Quotes

Quote #1

I told him on the way, pointedly enough, that I was a student of Buddhism. I later found out that both he and Mme. Yoshoto were Presbyterians. (23)

Jean adapts his religious perspective to try to connect with the people around him. His personal religion seems to be a blend of the elements of the different religions he encounters. It almost seems like he uses a variety of texts (paintings, drawings, letters, newspaper ads) to construct this story.

Quote #2

Her hobbies were loving her Lord and the Word of her Lord and "collecting leaves but only when they are laying right on the ground." (34)

This passage seems to use Sister Irma as fodder for laughs, to ridicule her answers on the questionnaire. When we get the "joke" – that Sister Irma collects leaves from the ground, as opposed to picking them live from trees, we can read into the statement that she is a gentle person. This is also probably a nod to St. Francis de Assisi, who Jean says he admires, and who is considered the patron Saint of the environment.

Quote #3

If it is not overstepping myself, I would greatly appreciate your telling me if you find being a nun very satisfactory, in a spiritual way, of course. (52)

Jean seems to be making a distinction between religion and spirituality. Religion can be adopted for a variety of practical reasons. It only becomes spiritual if it provides inner satisfaction, beyond the practicality, or at least that's one way of looking at it.

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