The Pilgrim's Progress By John Bunyan Summary and Analysis Part 1: Section 6 - Faithful

Summary

To his surprise, Christian finds that the cry had been raised by an old friend, Faithful, one of his neighbors in the City of Destruction. Happy in each other's company, they walk along exchanging the news. Faithful tells Christian that his departure had caused quite a stir in the city, with most people denouncing him as a fool. Faithful adds that he wishes Christian had informed him of his intention, in which case he would have accompanied Christian from the start instead of following after him.

Faithful's adventures along the way had been different from Christian's. He had managed to get around the Slough of Despond in which Christian had floundered, but on the path to the Wicket Gate had been accosted by one Wanton, a woman with a very flattering tongue. She had tried hard to induce him to turn aside with her, promising him "all carnal and fleshly content." But he closed his eyes to her bewitching looks, and walked on.

At the foot of Difficulty Hill, he met a very aged man by the name of Adam the First, who lived in the town of Deceit Adam invited Faithful to come live with him, saying that his house was "maintained with all the dainties in the world," and that he had three beautiful daughters: Lust of the Flesh, Lust of the Eyes, and Pride of Life (1 John 2:16). Faithful might marry one of these — or all of them if he so desired — and become his heir. Faithful was "somewhat inclinable" at first but, thinking better of it, went on, with old Adam cursing and reviling him.

Ascending Difficulty Hill as far as the arbor — the very place where he had lost his Roll, Christian interjects — Faithful looked behind and there was someone coming after him, "swift as the wind." Overtaking Faithful, he knocked him down. When Faithful got up, he was knocked down again, and then again. "That man that overtook you was Moses," says Christian, and he "spareth none, neither knoweth he how to show mercy to those that transgress his law." Under the harsh Mosaic Code he was punishing Faithful for having so much as looked at Wanton and for "secretly inclining to Adam the First."

Faithful had not stopped at Palace Beautiful as Christian had, which explained why he had come to be ahead of him on the Holy Way. Traversing the Valley of Humiliation, he had not encountered Apollyon, who was perhaps nursing the wound given him by Christian, but he had met Discontent and another named Shame. The latter argued the view that religion was a "pitiful low sneaking business . . . that it was a shame to sit whining and mourning under a sermon, and a shame to come sighing and groaning home." The mighty, rich, and wise did not do that He had noted that Pilgrims were chiefly men of "base and low estate and condition," having no bravery of spirit nor any understanding of "natural science." Faithful was somewhat taken aback by this, but consoled himself with the thought that what men most esteem is abominated by God, and that "what God says is best, though all the men in the world are against it."

As Christian and Faithful go on walking and talking, they see a tall man, "something more comely at a distance than at hand." When he says he is bound for the heavenly country, Faithful invites him to join them, which is a mistake. Christian soon recognizes the man as Talkative, son of Say-well, of Prating Row, and warns Faithful not to be taken in by him, for "notwithstanding his fine tongue, he is but a sorry scrub . . . this man is for any company and for any talk; as he talketh now with you, so will he talk when he is on the ale-bench. And the more drink he hath in his crown, the more of these things he hath in his mouth. Religion hath no place in his heart, or house or conversation; all he hath lieth in his tongue, and his religion is to make a noise therewith." After many long arguments in which Christian and Faithful assail his views, Talkative decides they are peevish men "not fit to be discoursed with," and goes off; "and good riddance," says Christian.

Farther on, Faithful chances to look back and sees someone coming toward them. It is their good friend Evangelist, who asks how they have fared in their journey. In turn, they ask him what they may expect to meet up ahead. There will be tribulations, he answers, for tribulations mark the way to Heaven. They would soon come to a town where they would be attacked by enemies. One or both of them might be killed. "But be you faithful unto death, and the King will give you a crown of life," Evangelist assures them.

Analysis

Until Bunyan brings Faithful on the scene, Christian has faced his major adventures alone. Now he has a good companion at last. Other Pilgrims met along the way have been a sorry lot, Pliant, Formalist, Hypocrisy, Simple, Presumptuous, Timorous, and Mistrust, among others. Christian is overjoyed to meet with an old and trusted friend, a proper Pilgrim, with whom he can discourse at length on the contrast between the miseries of this world and the eternal bliss that awaits the Elect in the Celestial City. Bunyan makes the most of this opportunity for an extended dialogue on the awful mysteries of the Faith.

As a character, Faithful can scarcely be distinguished from Christian, except that he is a bit more naive. Spiritually, they are twins. They see eye to eye on all important matters. The introduction of Faithful also enables Bunyan to describe more of the temptations and perils that beset the Holy Way, for Faithful has met adventures other than Christian's; his near seduction by Madame Wanton and by old Adam ("the carnal spirit") with his three lusty daughters; his merciless beating by Moses, who would have killed him, Faithful is sure, "but that one came by and bid him forbear," his rescuer being the Lord, whom Faithful recognized on perceiving "the holes in his hands and in his side" (the scars of the Crucifixion); his meeting with Discontent and with "that bold villain" Shame, who objected that all religion was "an unmanly thing," that it was "a shame to sit whining and mourning under a sermon when a man, if he is wise, should be out making a place for himself in the world.

One of the more interesting passages in the book is the long involved argument that ensures when Christian and Faithful overtake Talkative and invite him to join them. Their new acquaintance is well named, for he is always ready, as he himself says, to "talk of things heavenly or things earthly, things moral or things evangelical, things sacred or things profane, things past or things to come, things foreign or things at home, things more essential or things circumstantial, provided that all be done to our profit."

Talkative is one of the few characters whom Bunyan endows with any physical features. The others are abstractions characterized solely by their names, such as Hypocrisy, or Evangelist, or Mr. Worldly Wiseman. Talkative, we are told, "is a tall man and something more comely at a distance than at hand." Faithful is quite taken with Talkative at first, finding him "a very pretty fellow," but Christian disagrees, saying that the first impression made by Talkative reminds him of the "work of the painter whose pictures show best at a distance, but very near more unpleasing."

The ever plausible Talkative seems to have bothered Bunyan quite a bit, for he was at great pains to tear him down and prove that, "notwithstanding his fine tongue, he is but a very sorry fellow . . . a sounding brass and tinkling cymbal." Christian and Faithful finally quarrel with Talkative about whether salvation is won by Grace, or by Works. As Talkative is not a doer, he has not much faith in Works; everything depends upon Grace. When Christian and Faithful attack him as a dissembling Christian and liken him to a whore, Talkative goes off in a huff, dismissing his questioners as "not fit to be discoursed with." Nothing more is heard of Talkative.

Still keeping watch over the Pilgrims and their progress, Evangelist suddenly appears once again, this time to warn Christian and Faithful — and the reader — that there is danger ahead, that tragedy is impending, that one or the other of them may be killed. But Evangelist has a comforting word and assurance. The one who gets killed "will have the better of his fellow." As a Christian martyr, he will the sooner get to Heaven and be spared "the many miseries the other will meet with in the rest of his journey."

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