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What the book is really about: an atheist existentialist view of death.

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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 20, 2009, 12:31:52 AM PDT
I think a lot of people missed the point of the book. To me this book was about how an atheist approaches death. Most of the characters mention that they don't believe in God and no one prays. From an atheistic perspective there is no hope for anything beyond this life, just as the characters had in reality, no hope for a life beyond the hill. So how do you go through life knowing there is no hope for an afterlife? You can:

1. Plan and keep yourself busy so you don't think about it (Jeff)
2. Joke and drink and forget about it (Erick)
3. Complain and take a negative outlook on life (Amy)
4. Live in a fantasy/daydream world (Stacy)
5. Stoically embrace the futility of action (Mathius)

Interestingly the plant only directly kills 2 of the characters... the rest are driven to it by their mental anguish, or murdered by their fellows. So, I think the book was more about how we distract ourselves from thinking about our own death, and the anguish of finally facing it head on without a belief system.

Posted on Sep 1, 2009, 1:51:51 PM PDT
I agree 100%. The Ruins is my favorite book ever because it's such a genius study of human pre-death psychology. I have told countless friends that the book is about the mental experience of accepting death and struggling with atheism and they have all only seen the movie and think I'm just making all of that up. I'm glad someone else sees it this way. To me, the most powerful part of the book is the very end where Stacy thinks in her head about how she wanted to die. How, even though she's an atheist, she comes to accept her fate anyways, but still sort of living in her fantasies (by pretending that she's drowning instead.) Scott Smith is an effing genius. There's so many layers of theme here it's astounding.

Posted on May 30, 2011, 10:57:12 AM PDT
compsciguy says:
Would atheists appreciate this novel, then? This novel portrays atheists as very annoying and shallow.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 3, 2012, 11:32:18 PM PST
Mr. Oak says:
Well, I would say all of them had their flaws. Most of them were shallow on purpose, to show how most people distract themselves in order to not think about what's uncomfortable. I think the exception was Mathius - who stands out as the "hero" when they come face to face with the reality of their existence.
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Discussion in:  The Ruins forum
Participants:  4
Total posts:  4
Initial post:  Aug 20, 2009
Latest post:  Mar 3, 2012

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The Ruins
The Ruins by Scott Smith (Mass Market Paperback - July 31, 2007)
3.2 out of 5 stars (1,211)