He thought of his daughter: all her spirit, which had resisted them so admirably to marry him, then only to be broken and dissolved on her damned piety; all her intelligence, hardly even born, came to nothing in the marriage, making ends meet and again above all, the Goddamned piety; all her innocent eagerness, which it looked as if nothing could ever kill, still sticking its chin out for more.

In this passage, taken from Chapter 9, Joel is thinking to himself about his daughter, Mary, as he and Catherine wait to hear whether or not Jay is alive. This quotation highlights the religious differences not only between Mary and her father, but between Mary and the rest of her family (save Hannah). Mary's religion is a source of frustration to the family because they feel it is a waste of her energy; she is so intelligent and spirited that they hate to see her spend so much time on something that they do not believe will reward her efforts.