Hidden Desire of Control in Margaret Laurence’s “to Set Our House in Order”

“God Really Does Not Love Order”
Hidden Desire of Control in Margaret Laurence’s “To Set Our House in Order”

    “I felt that whatever God might love in this world, it was certainly not order.” This is the last sentence in the short story “To Set Our House in Order”, written by the Canadian writer Margaret Laurence. In the story, Grandmother MacLeod tells young Vanessa that “God loves order”. Although Vanessa is only ten years old and cannot completely understand what happens surrounding her, she still realizes and learns something from her Grandmother MacLeod, who is religious, old-fashioned, and wants to set “the house” in order. Grandmother MacLeod, to some degree, is the central character of this story. Throughout her entire life, she wants to be "a lady". To her, "to set the house in order" is both the principle and the solution to deal with the troubles in her life. However, the hidden behind the principle is actually her strong desire of control. In this short paper, I will investigate how and why she follows her “order” principle.
    In 1611 King James Version of “1 Corinthians Chapter 14:40”, it is said that “Let all things be done decently and in order”. It seems that Grandmother MacLeod wants to set everything in order just because of her firm religious belief. However, as a matter of fact, the real reason is that she has a strong desire of control.
    The desire of control is human being’s instinct, which can be used to fight against the fear of the inner heart. The person with a strong desire of control always looks strong outside, but inside very weak. Grandmother MacLeod is actually such a person. She always appears a lady, keeping herself perfect anywhere and anytime. She cares about her appearance and behaves in an ordered way. Although Grandmother MacLeod is old, she still keeps her back straightened. When Vanessa’s mother is going through a difficult pregnancy and her father Ewen is very anxious and in a little panic, she stays calm....