Christ in Concrete – Paul the Bricklayer and his Catholic faith

As we dive into the world of Christ in Concrete through Paul, who is in fact a representation of the author Pietro Di Donato, some of the repetitively used words and phrases: “O God,” “father,” and “father’s hands” have a distinct significance in his decisions as he eventually becomes a bricklayer. One of Paul’s internal thoughts gave mention to his strong Catholic sentiments, as well as his Father where he says “Yes O God and father I am a bricklayer and we shall not starve!” (74) It is interesting to note this thought, because of the fact that his strong religious character is being reflected, with his humble notion not only to the job he was forced to do, but also towards his father, whom he is indebted to. Paul’s mention of “we shall not starve,” as his final announcement in his head, hints his constant looming anxiety of not having enough money to keep surviving in the new country away from home. Also since the novel sets itself a bit after the Great Depression, it’s not surprising that this concern would pop in his mind.

                In the midst of his “Job,” he feels his body easily retiring from the hours of knee work where he injures his own self saying “O God how it hurts – but I must not let them see I have hurt myself already – I must lay brick!” (76) This fact also points out his other working anxiety, to which reminded him that he could be let go at any minute if he wasn’t diligent and sturdy. The descriptions of his toil that Di Donato soon details at Paul’s first Job also point out an ironic moment where Paul states that “his thumb throbbed, swelled, and rapidly turned blue, but he would not stop, every beat of pain pushed him on, and when Black Mike blew noon, his cramped knees and toes could not lift him to his feet for a few minutes.” (77) The irony in this mention is the connection with him being a Bricklayer, as well as his Catholic belief, which are both in metaphor about “laying bricks down the right path.” As Paul is taking his deceased father’s legacy, he finds that the bricks he lays down his new job, is filled with struggle, that he learns of and sucks up to. In this, he is being humble, not only to his Father, but also his religious belief, which can be said as being metaphorically the same thing. (Father being the “Father God” in Catholicism) As he continues to pave his path, he is stricken with the consistent battle between his physical pain and his mental and spiritual fortitude, which he has further expressed through his Job. 

-Geoffrey Co

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One thought on “Christ in Concrete – Paul the Bricklayer and his Catholic faith

  1. I agree that Di Donato’s Catholic roots are important here. I’d like to hear more about the relationship between, on the one hand, the actual Church in the novel and, on the other, a Catholic spirit among the workers in the novel. It strikes me that the Church appears in a poor light but the workers live out a rather inspiring example of Christian sacrifice and mutual aid.

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