Study Guide

The Scorpio Races Religion

By Maggie Stiefvater


"God's always happy," Finn says. "You're the one who needs pleasing." (2.27)

This is the first mention of God in the novel. It doesn't tell us much other than Puck and her family are people who have religion somewhere in their lives… though it turns out to play not that big of a part.

Red, Father Mooneyham often remarks sadly, like sin. (12.14)

There is quite a paragraph about the Father's red car and how sinful it is. Smells like a symbol to us, although not a very prominent one. What else is red in the novel? (Hint: a horse. Four letters. Starts with C and rhymes with "poor.") Is there a connection?

I haven't been to confession in a very long time. [...] I've done a great many things that I ought to confess. (12.22)

Puck's religious guilt is starting to show. She's not guilty about much, though. Her main source of guilt: thinking mean thoughts about the brother who is going to abandon her and make them lose their house. Sounds justified to us.

"I believe in the same thing they believe in [...] I just don't believe you can find it in a building." (33.7)

Sean and George Holly have a brief religious discussion, and we get a glimpse of Sean's beliefs. He believes God takes different forms and you don't have to spend a couple of hours in a stuffy church every week to see it.

"I can feel God out here." (33.66)

Seems George Holly isn't the type to see God in a church either, but to see God in nature: in the cliffs, in the sea, in the island. Do you think he sees God in the sea horses who tear his friend's faces off?

Now I definitely need to go to confession because I've not only thought dark things about my brother, I've thought them while in Mass. It is slightly uncomfortable to know that if I die in the next few hours, I'll go to hell. (34.4)

Puck carries around a heaping helping of Catholic guilt with her. Religion never seems to have any sort of positive effects for Puck; it only causes her anxiety.

"You're the one who says that God works through us. Maybe he wanted me to stay there and keep holding it." (44.8)

Here is the closest Puck comes to a crisis of faith: Walking away from the man called Prince, and having him die. We're not sure if this is more the result of her religious guilt or because she's the type to take responsibility for anything and everything because she's head of her own household. What do you think?

Gabe had decided when he was fifteen that he was going to be a priest. (44.25)

This is a strange throw-away fact. How does it affect your perspective on Gabe's character? Sounds like he's the type to abandon things frequently: God, his family… What's next?

He absolves me. I feel absolved. (44.32)

Puck practically begs Father Mooneyham to give her penance for her sins. If she's looking for absolution in name only, did she really feel that bad to begin with?

[The stable is] awesome in the way that St. Columba's is. It has the same high ceiling, the carved stone, the carried sounds. (45.12)

Horse racing could very well be considered a religion on Thisby, and from Sean's description of Malvern's stables, those are basically hallowed ground.

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