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Explorations Read-Aloud: “Pigeon Feathers” by John Updike

Friday, March 29 @ 11:00 am 12:00 pm

Every Friday, at 11:00 am, on the library’s YouTube Channel and Facebook Page, the library will stream a brand new recording of local thespian, Joseph Coté reading aloud selections from a wide variety of fascinating and entertaining books of fiction and non-fiction.

For March 29, Coté will read aloud from John Updike’s book Pigeon Feathers.

Summary:  David Kern, a boy in his mid-teens, moves with his mother to a rural farm, a displacement from his former home that he finds traumatic. At his new house, David discovers a copy of H. G. Wells’ The Outline of History. In this work, Wells portrays Jesus of Nazareth as a purely historical figure and not of divine origins.

David is cast into a crisis of faith which causes him to question the existence of a supreme being. While in the family’s outhouse, he experiences a horrifying premonition of his unredeemed soul. Neither David’s parents nor the Lutheran minister can provide satisfactory answers to his questions regarding his emerging dilemma.

In an effort to distract her son from his suffering, his mother mentions that his grandmother would like the numerous pigeons culled from the rafters of her barn. David takes his Remington .22 rifle, a recent gift from his parents and, after some hesitation, begins to systematically shoot the birds.

Though David warms to his task, he becomes dismayed at the slaughter and stops. While his mother helps him to bury the birds, David examines the feathers of the dead animals, admiring their color and texture. David realizes that where there is exquisite design in nature there can be purpose in life and ultimate salvation

 “ ‘Pigeon Feathers’ represents an archetypal maturation ritual, a personal coming-of-age of a young man who is not satisfied by the formal ecclesiastical rites (catechism and confirmation) but who uses worldly implements to fight through the trauma toward adulthood. — Biographer Robert Detweiler in John Updike(1984)

Click the links to find the library’s YouTube Channel and Facebook Page.

Thoughts to share? Book ideas to suggest?
Contact Joseph at friday-explorations@usa.net

55 Main Street
Camden, ME 04843 United States