In Christ in Concrete, the connection between work and religion in the lives of the characters is inseparable. It is hard not to notice the author intentionally capitalizes not only the word God, but Job, as well. It seems to be a way of showing the power that each force carries – like a greater being that holds total control over Geremio, Annunziata, Luigi, Paul, and the other bricklayers.
The story seems to portray the working class as very religious, maybe even more religious than other socioeconomic classes. Perhaps it is their economic struggle and hardships of labor which make them more likely to turn to God for help than citizens who don’t have to deal with the same living conditions. For example, on page 46, we see Luigi rising for work, figuring out how he will support Annunziata and her eight children now that Geremio is dead. He think to himself, “There is only one way…and that will be managed with the aid from above…It may be my fate to win the lottery – one never knows when Fortune deigns to visit.” Luigi can’t envision a solution to their problems with the exception of divine intervention. The worse their working and living conditions are, the more they pray.
When Paul goes out looking for help, he gets turned away by fellow Christians. He tries to convince the grocer to help him, thinking “We are Christians together – father in Heaven watches and will pray for you – we will pray to the Lord Jesus for every bit of help you give us and that He shall reward you…” (52). But the grocer replies, “Father John should be able to do something for your mother. You might tell him that I suggested you see him. I make donations to St. Prisca” (52).
Yet, when Paul goes to the church, he is turned away, with nothing more than a piece of cake from Father John. So when the place of God leaves Paul with little options, he turns to Job, “Job who would give living to mother Annunziata and the little ones” (69). The use of the word Job here is almost interchangeable with the word God.
It seems to me that the characters’ reliance on religion prevents them from seeing the actual source of their issues. Unfortunately, their religion tends to hold them back from rebelling and asking, “Why that’s the way the world is” (92). Paul quickly realizes that government institutions like school and the police won’t do anything to help: “I mean they said they had nothing to do with supporting us” (71). He and the others seem to just accept the injustices of the world, and then pray about it.
When Paul attempts to ask Mr. Rinaldi why he’s only getting paid five dollars, Mr. Rinaldi replies, “I can’t fight with the corporation” (92). And Annunziata tells Paul, “It is the Jesu who keeps us living and not their gold, my boy” (92). They seem to be resigned to the fact that no one will help their situation, so they feel they have no choice but to turn to the only two constants in their lives: God and Job.