Truths held in youth are rarely those that endure until death. As years accumulate, so does, allegedly, one's wisdom and capacity for reflection. Eugene O"Neill, author of The Iceman Cometh, reveals in this dramatic play his own experiences with Catholicism and how his views had altered through his lifetime regarding this faith. .
As a child, O"Neill was raised in a devout Irish Catholic family. His early years were spent in hotels and trains, on account of his father's hectic profession. He was also left in the care of his mother, a woman heavily dependent upon morphine. Obviously, in such a state as this, Mrs. O"Neill could hardly display the affections necessary to raise an emotionally healthy child.
This relationship of mother and son is evident in The Iceman Cometh through the characters of Parritt and his own mother. Parritt, similar to O"Neill, resented his mother for her lack of emotional nourishment. So, out of his malice towards her, he betrays his mother and her life, The Anarchist Movement. This treacherous action parallels O"Neill's in that O"Neill too proves disloyal to Catholicism by rejecting the faith entirely by the age of 14.
"If we did quarrel, it was because I told her I"d become convinced The Movement was only a beautiful pipe dream" (O"Neill 23). Thus spoke Larry, the foolosopher of Harry Hope's Bar. Through this quote, O"Neill displays not only the notion of the Anarchist Movement as a colossal pipe dream, but also, in respect to his own life, that of Catholicism as well. O"Neill undeniably disagreed in the validity of Catholic dogmas. .
One such dogma O"Neill may have disagreed with is that of absolvement of one's sins through confession. "I know it's the last time Teddy, you"ll never do it again" (O"Neill 177). This quote, spoken by Evelyn to her husband Hickey, illustrates a deep frustration harbored by O"Neill. Plainly, the idea of salvation through confession and repentance sharply contrasted with his own, causing him to abandon the Church entirely.