Religion and faith are a central theme in the novel. Religion is an important part of our lives. It is a part of our identity; it makes us who we are in the inside and the outside. Faith is the strength of the body, spirit, soul and mind. Pietro di Donato expresses how a strong faith can easily fall apart with just a little disbelief in God because of the hardships and unfairness of life.
In Part three (Tenement), chapter two, Annunziata and Paul are going to meet with “the Cripple”. According to Donato, “The dignified man, the Negress, and the well dressed woman had all gone nervously through the door over which hung a sooty wooden lettered sign, “Jesus Never Fails” (Donato). First of all, it is ironic that the sign is in the Cripple’s room where she is like a fortune teller and has some kind of connection with the dead world and their dead souls. Therefore, she has supernatural powers rather than spiritual. Also, it is ironic that at the beginning of the novel, after losing his father Geremio, and his uncle, Luigi being injured by Job, Paul has to provide for his family because he is the oldest son. Later, he goes to the grocery store, the meat store and the municipal building (overseer of the poor) in order to get some food, meat, and some financial help. After being rejected by them all, he turns to God, to faith, to religion where the one and only mighty God never says no.
Therefore, Paul goes to the church (Saint Prisca) to pray and get some help from Father John. In Part two (Job), chapter six, in the church, Paul states, “Here in the church of worship I kneel, my Lord. You have taken dear father away for your own need… can you not send him back, O Lord? We love him- we are hungry-we need him…” (Donato).
However, it is ironic that the sign at the cripple’s house states that “Jesus Never Fails”, because in a way the representation of Jesus, the church does not help him or his family in any way except for a slice of cake that wouldn’t even cover half their hunger. And at the beginning of part five (Annunziata), they visit the cripple again in order to get their hopes of the future from Geremio. By the end, Paul’s belief in God and the rewards of the afterlife has benne destroyed and crushed under Job.