Elmer Gantry Themes

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Anti-clericalism

Throughout the novel, clergymen and the church are presented in an extremely unflattering light. For the most part they are hypocrites, not even believing the doctrines they preach to their congregations every week. Judson Roberts, the enthusiastic, apparently confident evangelist who converts Elmer, admits to himself that his preaching is dishonest. He plans to quit the church and get a good job selling real estate.

The attack on the hypocrisy of Protestant ministers continues throughout the novel. At Mizpah Theological Seminary, Elmer and his fellow students all smoke in their dormitory, even though smoking is practically forbidden. When the pious Eddie leaves the room, all they want to talk about is sex. Harry Zenz does not believe a word of what he is taught at the seminary. He also thinks that Baptist leaders are "word-splitting, text-twisting, applause-hungry, job-hunting, medieval-minded second-raters. . . ." Horace Carp hates the Baptists and wants to...

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This section contains 850 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Elmer Gantry Study Guide
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Novels for Students
Elmer Gantry from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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