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I’m not religious in the least, but my mom was raised strictly Baptist and ended up leaving the church completely in her twenties. My mom and I have had many conversations about God and religion; how some people utilize religion to find purpose and stability in their lives, a moral code, or to better serve a personal agenda. I remember talking to her a few years ago about “The Sacrifice of Isaac”- my mom hates this story, and Frances reminded me very much of her reaction and feelings. Like Francis, my mom didn’t care if there was more to the story, it didn’t matter that Abraham didn’t sacrifice his son. What mattered to her was the idea of a God who would demand that of a parent.

Wolff’s “The Night in Question” is certainly not about religion, but it does utilize it to portray how a sister reacts to the loss of dependency she and her brother shared. Throughout the story, Frances hints at how wild and destructive her brother used to be, however this is a sharp contrast to the well put-together man Frances is visiting. She’s clearly put off by the change in her little brother, noting how he speaks differently, dresses differently, and presents himself as a stronger man than he may actually be.

“I had to change. Change the way I thought about things. Maybe I sound a little different too.” (Wolff, 642)

Frances and Frank have a past of abuse, one where Frances fought tooth and nail to protect her little brother from an angry father. In this instance, it created a very close relationship bordering dependency on each other: Frank more manipulative of this relationship, whereas Frances uses it to feel needed, perhaps even greater than herself. The change in Frank signals a change in their relationship, and his belief in God is a threat to the power and capability she believed she had. In the passage above, I believe this most clearly displays Frank’s acknowledgment of the abuse he faced and how he’s trying to handle himself without his sister’s influence. Frances, however, clings to anger, relishes in the fight, and her brother no longer needing her is crushing. So she challenges his faith, almost as if she is trying to remove the force in his life she perceives as a threat to her place in it.

She could still taste that smoke and hear her father’s steps on the stairs, Frank panting beside her, moving closer, his voice whispering her name and her own voice answering as fear gave way to ferocity and unaccountable joy, It’s okay, Franky. I’m here. (Wolff, 643)

In a way, I think Frances perceives the presence of God in Frank’s life as the bullying, abusive, figure of their father and yet another reason for her to protect and fight for him.

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