‘A letter to God’ story ironically depicts Lencho’s unquestioning belief in God. He is shown so naive that his blind faith fails to notice and acknowledge the humanity around him in the form of the help given by the post office employees and instead blames them for stealing his money from God and even class them ‘crooks’.
‘ A Letter to God’ Chapter Notes
WORD MEANINGS – ‘A Letter to God’
Entire—whole, taking all together; Valley—an area of low land between hills of mountains; Crest—top; Ripe— mature; Corn—grain; Dotted with—spread out here and there; Downpour—heavy rain; Shower—light shower of rain; Intimately—closely; Supper—the last meal of the day;
Predicted—made a forecast; Huge—very big; Approaching—to come near; Pleasure— happiness; Returned—came back; Exclaimed —cried with surprise; Satisfied— contented; Expression—show of feelings; Regarded—thought; Draped—dressed up; Curtain—veil; Suddenly—quickly and unexpectedly; Along—with; Hailstones—rain of snow; Resemble—to look like something; Exposing —coming out in the open; Frozen pearls—(here) icy hailstones; Soul—spiritual part of a person believed to exist after death; Plague of Locusts—attack of insects or flies.
Solitary—alone; Through—from the beginning to the end; Instructed— directed or told to do; Conscience—soul; the inner sense of right or wrong; Still—yet; Daybreak— sunrise; Pesos—currency of several South American countries; Envelope—paper cover to keep letter; Troubled—disturbed; Stamp—postage; Dropped—put in; Employees—workers; Boss—master; head; Career—profession; Amiable—friendly and pleasant.
Fellow—person; Immediately—at once; Tapping—thumping; Commented—told; Faith—belief; Correspondence—communicating through letters; Shake—to move; Idea—plan; Opened—unsealed; Evident—clear; Needed—required; Goodwill— nice feeling; Stuck—remained firm; Resolution—firm determination; Several—many; Obliged—asked to do a favour; asked to be generous; Charity—help given to the poor and needy people; Addressed—written to special name; Containing—having; A bit—a little; Earlier—before the beginning of period of time; Usual—common; Experiencing—feeling something; Contentment—satisfaction; Performed—done; Deed—act; Slightest—not even a little; Confidence—trust; Counted—calculated the total number; Denied—refused; Wrinkling—crease; Brow—the part of face above the eyes; Caused—to make something happen; Effort—try; Express—to show feeling or opinion; Licked—strike with tongue; Affixed—glued.
Fist—closed palm; Moment—a particular point of time; Need—to require; Bunch—group; Crook—cheats, thugs.
THEME of ‘A letter to God’
‘A letter to God’ is a story of extreme faith in God. Through this story, the writer, G.L. Fuentes has tried to depict the invincible and insurmountable faith in God of a simple poor farmer, Lencho. He was a poor, honest and hard-working farmer. Hence, he wrote a letter to God and asked God to send him money.
Blind Faith in the Mercy of God
- The story sows the innocence of faith of Lencho in God.
- It depicts how humans can accomplish even the impossible by merely believing in something.
- Later, it is shown through Lencho’s family praying to God and putting their faith in Him.
- Finally, it is shown in Lencho’s unyielding belief that God will send him a hundred pesos.
- The theme of faith is closely linked to the theme of humanity.
- Lencho’s belief in the all-encompassing power of God makes him blind to the simple humanity shown through the kindness of postmaster and the post-office employees.
- It is ironic that it isn’t faith but human kindness that provides help to Lencho at his time of need.
Nature and its Destructive Side
- The story also explores nature and its destructive power.
- The rain, accompanied by hailstones, destroys Lencho’s fields and ruins his crops.
- It shows that ultimately in the conflict between man and nature, it is nature which ultimately triumphs.
Message Conveyed by ‘A Letter to God’
The lesson shows three things. It shows Lencho’s firm faith in God. His faith is rewarded though the helpers are human beings. Secondly, it shows the utter innocence of the farmer, Lencho. Thirdly, the lesson gives a message that sometimes even your generosity is not recognised. You may not get any credit for your generosity and kindness. But on the other hand, you may be misunderstood as a ‘bunch of crooks’.
Destruction of Lencho’s Crops
- Lencho was hoping for rain so he could harvest his crops and make money.
- However, Lencho’s fields experienced severe rainfall, followed by a hailstorm.
- This resulted in Lencho’s harvest being completely destroyed.
Lencho’s Letter to God
- Lencho had been taught in the All-Mighty’s immense power.
- He wrote a letter to God asking for a hundred pesos to sow his field and to be able to survive until next year.
- Lencho went to the post office to stamp and mail the letter.
The Postmaster’s Response to Lencho’s Letter
- The postmaster, though amused at Lencho’s letter, was moved by the letter.
- He decided to help Lencho by collecting money on his behalf.
- He managed to collect over half the money Lencho had asked for.
- The postmaster put the money in an envelope for Lencho and signed it as God.
Lencho’s Second Letter to God
- Lencho was unsurprised to find a letter from God. He was, however, angry when he counted the money.
- He decided to write another letter to God, asking God to send him the rest of the money.
- However, he asked God not to send the money through the post office as he believed the people at the post office had stolen his money.
There are three major characters in the story.
- Naïve: Lencho is a farmer with a firm belief in God. He is so unquestioning and innocent that he believes that God had actually sent him the money.
- Ungrateful: Lencho is innocent and naïve, yet ungrateful. Instead of being thankful to God for helping him, he complained about the missing thirty pesos.
- A True Believer: He truly believes in the all-encompassing power of God.
- Materialistic: He thinks rain looks like new silver coins. He also thinks of his harvest in terms of profit or loss.
- Faithful: Lencho’s wife too is a believer of God and has immense faith in his doings.
- Practical: When Lencho is dreaming of a good harvest, she replies ‘God willing’ knowing that rains can be unpredictable.
- A Good Housekeeper: She takes care of the house and the children.
- Helpful: The Postmaster is a kind and helpful man. He decides to help Lencho in his time of need.
- Understanding: He didn’t wish for Lencho’s faith in God to be shaken, and thus, helps him by arranging the money that he had actually asked from God.
- Generous: The Postmaster’s natural instinct was to help Lencho in however way he can. He not only asked others for help, but also gave away a part of his salary to Lencho to help him.
There are two main literary elements in the story.
- The Use of Metaphor
The Use of Metaphor
Fuentes makes use of metaphor in the story to draw unlikely comparisons between things. Some examples of metaphor are:
- In the phrase ‘Huge mountains of clouds’ the author draws a comparison between ‘hugeness’ of mountains with the clouds.
- The author compares the raindrops with new coins. This shows that Lencho is hoping the harvest will bring him money (new coins)
- The hailstones have been called ‘the frozen pearls’. Lencho was unhappy with the beautiful hailstones as they destroyed his yield.
- Through the phrase ‘a plague of locusts’, locusts have been compared with a disaster that spreads rapidly and destroys everything, just like the hailstorm.
- The author compares Lencho with an ox in the phrase ‘An ox of a man’, meaning, he is a hardworking man, just like an ox works hard in the fields.
- Irony is when words are used to express something that is very different from the actual intent.
- The author has given the story an ironic ending.
- The people at the post office had helped Lencho out of genuine intent, but ironically, Lencho blames them for stealing his thirty pesos.
- Lencho believes God had sent him the money but it is actually the people at the post office had sent the money.