Lilies of the Field Compare & Contrast

An Essay By KatieMarie // 12/26/2008

In the novel The Lilies of the Field, by William E. Barrett, the two main characters, Mother Maria Marthe and Homer Smith, were similar in many ways, yet different too. One of the similarities they shared was that both Mother Maria and Homer wanted to be in charge. While Homer was constructing the chapel, Mother Maria and he kept getting into arguments about if whether Homer was doing it right or not. Homer and Mother were both very adamant about what they wanted and did give in easily. When Homer was trying to get permission to buy the nuns food, Mother kept saying no. Homer showed his stubbornness when Mother tried to persuade Homer to go to Mass with her and the other nuns and he kept refusing. Both were outcasts amongst the townspeople. Father Gonzalez, the priest at the church, told Homer that most people thought the nuns were crazy for doing what they were doing. The townspeople looked down on Homer because he was black and they doubted that he would finish the chapel. Although they do not comprehend it, both Mother Maria and Homer care for each other. When Homer left to go to the city, they both realized that they missed the other. Although they may look different, The Lilies of the Field showed that Mother Maria and Homer had similar personalities.

Although Mother Maria and Homer were very much alike, they also had many differences. When Homer had first arrived at the convent, Mother Maria said that God had sent him and Homer said it was just a coincidence. At the sisters’ church, Homer was talking to the priest and he said that Mother Maria had said that God had sent her a big, strong man to build her the chapel. Another difference between Mother Maria and Homer was that Mother Maria had deep, profound faith and Homer did not. When Homer was fretting over how he was going to get bricks for the chapel, Mother Maria said that God would provide, and Homer thought that the idea was ridiculous. Homer was easygoing, but Mother was more dedicated and cautious. On Homer’s first day, Mother was agitated that he had slept in because she wanted to have everyone awake and working as early as possible. A distinct difference between the two was that Mother Maria was a Catholic and Homer was a Baptist. When Mother asked him to go to mass with the sisters, he refused. Despite their differences and flaws, by the conclusion of the book, Mother Maria and Homer were friends. The Lilies of the Field is a perfect example that friendship goes deeper than just the skin, religion or attitudes.