At this stage, the everyman still has people who are willing to provide support in his journey through illness. What marks out a good companion for the everyman’s illness is a person’s capacity to face situations with a broad kind of stoicism, that is, to take each event as it comes, without letting their emotions or fears overwhelm them. It also helps if the character is themselves in good health. Howie is healthy, successful and sporting. He loves his brother selflessly, and will do what is best to help the everyman return to health again. Maureen is full of vitality and lust. Both the everyman and men in the street notice her healthy, attractive body. This is in contrast to the absent presence of the everyman’s young wife Merete. It is noteworthy that both Howie and Maureen’s capacity to help is positioned as a gift. The narrative makes the point that Maureen’s gift is to make the unwell willing to re-engage with life again via her vitally-alive body. Howie’s gift is the provision of the two nurses, something he is able to do because of his financial situation. Both gifts are of a body (or bodies) as a source of care and support.
The everyman believes in the reality of the body rather than the soul. Everyman, the anonymously-authored fifteenth century play from which this novel takes its name, makes a good point of comparison to the everyman’s materialism. In the play, Everyman is a character who learns from Death that he is to die and be judged on his past sins. Death permits Everyman to find a companion to come with him, and this search makes up the bulk of the play. The pilgrimage from worldly concerns to the company of Good Deeds and her sister Knowledge mark the Everyman of the play’s movement towards penitence for his life of sin and the purification of his soul. The everyman of the novel, in contrast, not only rejects the faith of his family, Judaism, but all religion, including any notion of heaven or God. To him, religion is infantile, founded on superstitions. Instead, he has settled instinctively on a belief in the body as the source of fate. The physical world is the only reality, and our lifespan and quality of life is predetermined by the lives of those who have gone before us – our family and the rest of the human race.