Naomi Andu Period 4 9/21/2011 Chapter #2 Nice to Eat With You: Acts of Communion. What is Communion?.
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Communion is often thought of as a solely religious practice, but it’s meaning is much broader than that. Communion is “whenever people eat or drink together” (Foster 8). It can be something as elaborate as Thanksgiving dinner with your family, or as simple as getting McDonald’s drive-thru.
Contrary to popular belief, “communion doesn’t need to be holy. Or even decent” (Foster 9). Communion can come in many forms. It can be formal and civilized, or it can be savage and disgusting. It can be sharing a feast or sharing a pack of gum. The word “communion” has several different interpretations.
Usually, “…breaking bread together is an act of sharing and peace, since if you’re breaking bread you’re not breaking heads” (Foster 8).
Though this is not always the case, generally “the act of taking food into our bodies is so personal that we really only want to do it with people we’re very comfortable with…eating with another is a way of saying, ‘I’m with you, I like you, we form a community together’” (Foster 8)
Usually, meal scenes are dry and boring, to write as well as to read. For this very reason, “there needs to be a very compellingreason to include one in the story. And that has to do with how characters are gettingalong. Or notgettingalong…something more has to be happening than simply beef, forks, and goblets” (Foster 8-9).
Communion brings people together. Take, for example, Raymond Carver’s story, “Cathedral”. The main character dislikes anyone who is different than himself. This is why, when a blind man comes to visit, he is completely opposed to the idea. Later, though, “when the narrator watches the blind man eating—competent, busy, hungry, and , well, normal—he begins to gain a new respect for him…He discovers he has something in common with this stranger—eating as a fundamental element of life—that there is a bond between them” (Foster 10).
What does it mean when communion turns out badly or fails to happen altogether? Well, the same logic applies: “If a well-run meal or snack portends good things for community and understanding, then the failed meal stands as a bad sign” (Foster 11).
An example of communion in Great Expectations is when Joehas dinner with Pip and Herbert in London, and it’s a complete disaster. They are obviously uncomfortable eating together, and this adds to the awkward and tense atmosphere. The communion is such a failure that “[Pip is] heartily glad when Herbert [leaves them] for the City” (Dickens 213).
Monday through Friday, you eatlunch with your friends in the schoolcafeteria. This is a fairly simple and straightforward example of communion.
Another example could be when you and your friends stop to take a drink of water after PE. This example is a little harder to identify because it’s so ordinary and casual that we don’t give it a second thought, but it does qualify as communion.