Analysis of Home Course in Religion by Gary Soto


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Soto’s poems carry towards religion. The speaker in “Home Course in Religion” examines his history with religion, what he anteriorly keened, and what he transpires to learn through his own life experiences. There is a major separation between what he has been shown what is right and what he realizes on his own to be true. Distancing himself from the ideas he hopes to understand. The first separation shown, is that of reality versus the reasoning of thought. The speaker endeavors to understand and pertain the erudition he reads from religious books. The mystification associated with the book is illustrated in his own life as he and his roommates record their cerebrating on the current events. Their own cerebrations reflect the mystification relating to the books and the speaker struggles to genuinely find what he really kens and comprehends. What is truly real for the speaker is the physical pain associated with his karate class. He begins to realize the difference between what he has been taught by his karate instructor on the ideas of pain, and the “red welts” on his chest. He begins to see that the words of experts can be believed. He even mentions to us that his “instructor was wrong”. In this, he begins to break down the border between expertise and experience. Experience for him is the best lesson. The knowledge of others means nothing if not supported by personal experience. He cannot seem to understand the relationship between his own life and the ideas of others.

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He continues to fight for an answer. That seems that there is a distinction that the speaker simply cannot cross. The obstacle remains when his mother calls. She yells at him and he endeavors to assure her that he will be a success someday. His struggle for existence is an integrated impediment that disunites him from understanding his purpose and his own credence’s. When his girlfriend comes back to the poem, it seems that the connection can finally happen. The speaker, perpetuating to probe for an authentic connection, elongates for a personal moment, but his girlfriend pushes him away. He is once again left alone to figure things out for himself.

In this poem, the speaker enforces the borders between himself and others. He manages to do this by seeking methods such as reading, instead of personal experience. Albeit in the cessation, he realizes that his own authenticity can apply, he is then isolated, unable to find what the answer is. All the notions he has examined have left him empty inside, frustrated with the God he had always postulated authentic, and frustrated with himself for his own lack of credence and inability to decide for himself.

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