Well, said she, my Sons, you transgress, for that fruit is none of ours; but she did not know that they did belong to the Enemy: I’ll warrant you, if she had, she would have been ready to die for fear.
Christiana delivers this reproach to her sons in the Fourth Stage of Part II, when they have been caught pilfering fruit from the devil’s garden. Christiana does not seem aware of how close she comes to repeating God’s reproach to Adam and Eve in Genesis, when the first humans were similarly chastised for their fruit-eating transgression. Her religious outlook is so devoutly steeped in the Bible that she lives out biblical verses without even realizing it. However, Bunyan alters the biblical story a bit. Christiana becomes angry with her children but cannot cast them out as God did. She is in effect a single mother for most of the book, and she must be practical as well as devout. All she can do is warn her sons of their sins and trust that they will see the light.
The quote shows The Pilgrim’s Progress shifting between an allegory and a novel.
Bunyan explains how Christiana would have felt if she had known the fruit was the devil’s. When he says that she would have died of fear, he offers an alternate version of his own tale that reveals how he treats Christiana like a character in a novel, capable of making decisions, rather than a character in an allegory. Here Bunyan struggles between writing an allegory and novel. While The Pilgrim’s Progress is clearly an allegory, there are moments in which Bunyan writes like a novelist and shows that he understands that he might have written the story another way. He says that Christiana could have behaved differently, which implies that he sees her as existing separate from his allegory.
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