A holy stream and a strange marriage : environmental and sacramental healing in Wendell Berry's Jayber Crow.


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Wendell Berry’s novel, Jayber Crow, dramatizes both ecological and theological realities, and is invested in the fields of blue-ecocriticism, environmental humanities, ecofeminism, and ecotheology. I consider the images of water and marriage in Jayber Crow in light of these theoretical fields in order to draw attention to the entwined acts of rehabilitating the sacramental and the environmental imaginations that Berry presents in this novel. The first chapter of this project describes how the river that runs through Jayber’s life physically and spiritually shapes him, dramatizing what it means for water to have an environmental and sacramental presence in our everyday lives. The second chapter considers Jayber’s “strange marriage” to Mattie Chatham and how it models a redemption of the objectifying gaze in order to restore the covenantal significance of both human and nonhuman relationships through an education of the imagination.



Wendell Berry, fiction, ecotheology, environmental humanities, ecofeminism, blue-ecocriticism.