The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell, is a story with so many odd and ironic twists that it can blind you from the philosophical ideas that Mary is really trying to throw out there. With a group of people traveling on an asteroid on the quest to learn about alien life, it seems more like an action packed science-fiction novel than a book with religious and moral issues. But Mary's incredible skills as a storyteller forces readers to truly tests their knowledge and beliefs.
The main character, Emilio Sandoz, looks at the Stella Maris mission not only as a way to be the first to make contact with alien life forms, but also as a quest to find God, since in his eyes, this amazing journey must be God showing him his purpose. Sofia Mendes, who grew up having a rough childhood, ends up with a tough and cold personality as an adult that steers her away from a religious lifestyle. Anne Edwards is the Agnostic out of the bunch, dealing with all the standards of God around her. Though different in their religious beliefs, the experiences that Sofia, Emilio, and Anne have gone through have shaped their faithfulness to God or their hesitancy to believe.
Sofia Mendes is introduced in the novel as a stern Jewish woman. Christianity has a close relationship with Judaism, both historically and theologically. Despite its Jewish origins, it was not long before Christianity regarded itself as something other than a new Jewish sect.
Christians have criticized Jews for rejecting Jesus as their messiah, and Jews have criticized Christians for corrupting the concept of one God and following a false messiah. Within the novel, Sofia's keeps her religious opinions to herself. Although she does say a few Jewish phrases here and there, it doesn't seem that Mary wants to define her as very religious. She grew up losing both of her parents at an extremely young age.
Leaving her with nothing, she had to decide how she was going to make money to survive. She felt with no other option that she would have to turn to prostitution, selling herself to much older men. Ironically, this lifestyle lead her to meet a man that would help her become the business woman she grew up to be. But the harsh memories of her past created her to be extremely stand-offish with other strangers, especially men. â€œAll she had to do was learn an astronomerâ€™s job and then do it faster, cheaper and more accurately than he could do it himself. She resisted both hope and fear. Either could weaken youâ€ (Russell 65).
Her goal was to get her work done, not to make friends. But that changed later in the book as she became close with the entire group, and eventually fell in love and got married to Jimmy Quinn. Itâ€™s obvious that the death of her parents and her prostitution created her into someone who tends to shy away from using God as reasoning for things.
Anne Edwards is a wife, a physician, and a dear friend of Emilio Sandoz. She is Agnostic, often frustrated by the group's constant usage of God for all reasons. Agnosticism is a form of skepticism that holds that the existence that God cannot be logically proved or disproved. Often times Agnosticism is confused with Atheism, which claims there is no God.
Being the doctor of the Rakhat mission, Anne is constantly on duty due to the several illnesses that occurred throughout their adventure. She has the same pressure as God does to be a 'miracle worker', however, she feels that God rarely receives the blame for casualties like she does. An example would be Alan Pace's death, where after her thorough autopsy, found no signs of what could have caused it. Yet, others refused to believe that there couldn't be a cause of death, so they began bombarding Anne with several suggestions.
Instead of answering, Anne's anger burst out, not understanding why people can't just except that maybe God just felt that Alan's time was up. â€œWhy is that so hard to accept, gentlemen? Why is it that God gets all the credit for the good stuff, but itâ€™s the doctorâ€™s fault when shit happens? When the patient comes through, itâ€™s always â€?Thank God,â€™ and when the patient dies, itâ€™s always blame the doctorâ€ (Russell 198). The experiences that she has such as these puts so much frustration in her system that is steers her away from truly having full faith in God. Emilio Sandoz is Jesuit priest, desperately trying to find his way towards God.
Being a Jesuit, he is the member of the Roman Catholic religious order or the Society of Jesus. He is part of the largest single religious order, devoted to the pope and ruled by its general who lives in Rome. Jesuit training can last for more than 15 years. They spend 2 years in spiritual training, after which he takes the simple vows of the regulars â€“ chastity, poverty and obedience. Then as a scholastic, he spends 13 years and sometimes longer in.