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The Life Of Job And J.B,

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J.B. is Archibald MacLeish's modern rendition of The Book of Job. MacLeish's representation of Job does express a similar ultimate message. The implementation of his characters and their actions, however, does cause the message to somewhat diverge from The Book of Job's meaning.

Job and J.B. are works that thrust the main character into a sickness and poverty. Both Job and J.B. each are a "blameless and upright man"(Job1.1). God proclaims to Satan that Job and J.B.'s faith is unwavering and can withstand anything. Satan takes this as a challenge and says that if God takes away everything the two men will curse and rebuke Him. God accepts and lets Satan do that which he wants to Job and J.B. without hurting them. The two men lose everything, their material possessions and their families through a series of tragedies. Yet they both remain faithful to God. Satan then says to God that their faith will fail as their health fails. Again, God lets Satan do anything save killing the man. Then both fall deathly ill and suffer as they speak with "the comforters". These comforters blame Job and J.B. for their situation and say that they should just accept their fate and repent for the sin they have committed. Despite the comforters' rants, Job and J.B. maintain their innocence but desire to know why God has punished them. In the climax of the story, God finally answers both Job and J.B. with a series of rhetorical questions that assert His superiority and show that He knows what He is doing. Although he does not answer their question both men are content and accept the answer. The ultimate message, essentially, is that one must have faith in God and he or she will be rewarded in the end. MacLeish, however, does offer a somewhat different and distorted meaning.

MacLeish does not change the story, but presents it in a different manner. The story begins with Mr. Nickels and Mr. Zuss, two vendors in a circus. On a stage in the tent, people are playing out the modern story of Job unaware of Nickels and Zuss's world. Nickels and Zuss decide to play along with Nickels as Satan and Zuss as God. This is the first sign of MacLeish's message differing from that of Job. He has two mortal circus venders play the role of God and Satan, as if the roles are no more significant than that of any other character. The story proceeds as a framework story from then on, with occasional interruptions of Nickels and Zuss's arguing. Though Nickels does spurn and criticize God and man, Zuss's

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