Strait Is the Gate
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Strait Is the Gate (French: La Porte Étroite) is a 1909 French novel written by André Gide. It was translated into English by Dorothy Bussy. It probes the complexities and terrors of adolescence and growing up. Based on a Freudian interpretation, the story uses the influences of childhood experience and the misunderstandings that can arise between two people.
The story is set in a French north coast town. Jerome and Alissa as 10-11 year olds make an implicit commitment of undying affection for each other. However, in reaction to her mother's infidelities and from an intense religious impression, Alissa develops a rejection of human love. Nevertheless, she is happy to enjoy Jerome's intellectual discussions and keeps him hanging on to her affection. Jerome thereby fails to recognise the real love of Alissa's sister Juliette who ends up making a fairly unsatisfactory marriage with someone else. Jerome believes he has a commitment of marriage from Alissa, but she gradually withdraws into greater religious intensity, rejects Jerome and refuses to see him. Eventually she dies from an unknown malady which is almost self-imposed.
The title refers to Matthew 7:14 in the Bible:
- Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which
- leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
This verse appears at the end of the first chapter as the subject of a sermon on the Sunday after Alissa's mother runs away with another man. During this sermon Jerome resolves to become virtuous enough to deserve Alissa. However Alissa ultimately interprets the "strait and narrow" to preclude any earthly happiness that Jerome and she could share in marriage.
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