Study Guide

Our Town Religion

By Thornton Wilder


Religiously, we’re eighty-five per cent Protestants; twelve per cent Catholics; rest, indifferent. (I.225)

Grover’s Corners’ occupants are mostly Christian.

I never told you about that letter Jane Crofut got from her minister when she was sick. He wrote Jane a letter and on the envelope the address was like this: It said: Jane Crofut; The Crofut Farm; Grover’s Corners; Sutton County; New Hampshire; United States of America…Continent of North America; Western Hemisphere; the Earth; the Solar System; the Universe; the mind of God – that’s what it said on the envelope. (I.441-3)

Grover’s Corners is described as being in the "mind of God."

The real hero of this scene isn’t on the stage at all, and you know who that is. It’s like what one of those European fellas said: Every child born into the world is nature’s attempt to make a perfect human being. Well, we’ve seen nature pushing and contriving for some time now. We all know that nature’s interested in quantity; but I think she’s interested in quality, too, - that’s why I’m in the ministry. (II.298)

The passage above is a discussion of nature rather than religion. The implication is that marriage is natural for two people.

Now there are some things we all know, but we don’t take’m out and look at’m very often. We all know that something is eternal. And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars…everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings…There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being. (III.25).

Rather than emphasizing the significance of any religious icon, the Stage Manager suggests that the spiritual and eternal "something" on earth resides in people.

But, Mother Gibbs, how can I ever forget that life? It’s all I know. It’s all I had. (III.152)

Emily is not prepared to let go of her life on Earth and move onto the next stage.

When you’ve been here longer you’ll see that our life here is to forget all that, and think only of what’s ahead, and be ready for what’s ahead. When you’ve been here longer you’ll understand. (III.150)

An afterlife is implied but not fully explained in Our Town.