So; I am working on a story that is inspired by my Christian faith to an extent, and I would like the main character to become a "redemptive hero" who becomes a hero by simply helping people to see the truth among the lies in a society that is heavily controlled by an "evil corporation/government dictatorship", and thus has strict laws against a huge amount of different things, including but not limited to "Theistic mal-activity" (which basically just means "believing in God or anything of the sort").

He becomes this hero because he is inspired by the life of "one specific character in the story named Jesus" after briefly reading a tattered copy of the Bible at his book-burning job. He has no way to actually know that its a bible because the title has worn off and the first few pages are missing, which is why he starts reading it in the first place to figure out if its one of the books he is supposed to dispose of.

the issue I'm having is that in my current iteration of the story, he basically reads one sentence that "speaks to him" (specifically, "those who have will be given more, and those who do not have, what they do have will be taken from them") and is immediately convinced he needs to keep the book secret and keep reading and stuff- this feels unrealistic to me though, and seems cringingly bad. I highly doubt that somebody who has lived in a dystopian dictatorship and has literally never heard of God would suddenly and powerfully be convinced every word of the Bible is true from a single reading of one line.

I'm looking to rewrite this idea so that he is more realistic in how he reacts to the discovery of the scripture at first and doesn't end up like one of those characters in a super cheesy "Christian Christmas special family movie" who is magically converted to be a wholehearted devotee for little reason at all.

It is still important for me that his actions land him in prison and stuff (that's how he meets the other 2 main characters)

And it is equally important to me that he is inspired enough by it that he continues sharing the truth about things he has realized on his own, despite having no access to the scripture at all after his initial illegal reading of it.

So, to be clear what I'm asking: How do I realistically show a character's first introduction to the concept of Jesus? or in other words, introduction to a person who wants to "set the captives free" so to speak?

Redemption is the story's #1 priority and focus; and the main character's own redemption should be where it starts. i dont know how to do that in a way that people wont cringe really really hard at.

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    $\begingroup$ If you're one for real life experiments, you could buy a Satanist Bible and take it to your parents place. Just leave it in an open backpack or similar and start jutting down notes. $\endgroup$
    – dot_Sp0T
    Aug 21, 2019 at 18:25
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    $\begingroup$ Hey Fennecai, this is a site about worldbuilding, your question is more about character development and plot writing and as-such may be more suited to the Writing stack than here (where it seems off-topic). Nonetheless, welcome to the site, take the tour when you have a moment and read up in our help center about how we work. See you around. $\endgroup$ Aug 21, 2019 at 18:29
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    $\begingroup$ The concept of redemption-from-book-burning was done by Ray Bradbury. Make really sure you are not echoing Farenheit 451. The rediscovery of Secret Knowlege has been done many times, most interestingly by Cordwainer Smith. Try to beat him for bizarre journeys of faith. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Aug 21, 2019 at 19:01
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    $\begingroup$ "Convinced every word of the Bible is true": this is literally impossible, as there are quite many places where the Bible is self-contradictory. A good example in the story of "the character named Jesus" are the different genealogies in Matthew and Luke, which not only contradict each other but also contradict the narrative that Jesus was not actually the son of Joseph. Does your character have a hard time thinking things through, or is school that bad at teaching logic in the dystopian dictatorship? And how come that the character does not immediately realize he is reading mythology? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Aug 21, 2019 at 19:12
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    $\begingroup$ This appears to actually be a writing question -- perhaps it would fit better on Writing.SE? $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Aug 21, 2019 at 19:15

2 Answers 2


Fahrenheit 451 was not about banning the content it was about banning the form. Books were a rebellion against pulp magazines and periodicals.

Your government may be virulently against all religion, but hard pushes against religion lead to fighting back, people hiding the books, moving back to an oral tradition. Burning books for the sake destroying the content rarely works, there are always more copies. Sitting at work I have 4 bibles with me somewhat coincidentally. I have a Gideon NT/Psalms that I was handed years ago and stuffed in my bag. I have a CD from Project Gutenberg that has a KJV buried in with Shakespeare and Chaucer. I have a bible app and an app that has a different Project Gutenberg rip. Only one of the 4 was intentional. Only two are obvious.

You want the person to rescue the Bible from the burn pile for "reasons" then start reading it. Ask yourself why he would be burning the book, if not for censorship reasons. Perhaps the paper is being recycled, magazines, propaganda, being turned into new magazines and propaganda, old textbooks being turned into new textbooks. He finds something an odd size, shape color and decides to pull it out.

If this takes place when religions have been forgotten, perhaps he ends up using an idiom from the Bible(there are a surprising amount) which gets flagged by an AI as being a circumspect phrase.

Perhaps his behavior changes and character development are enough to trigger the arrest. No longer being interested in the gladiatorial games, showing generosity, not exacting vengeance.

Take a look at THX1138, Fahrenheit 451, Soylent Green.


It is a quote about secret knowledge.

What sort of books does this guy usually run across and read? What is allowed him? Does he know about Robin Hood? That quote, taken by itself, sounds like something a bad guy would say - the sort of person Robin Hood might go up against. Maybe he thinks it is King John speaking and he is looking forward to him getting his comeuppance.

As he reads, it becomes clear to him that the quote which caught his attention is really about secret knowledge. The people who have it get more. He is now quite literally one of those people because he is getting that secret knowledge as he reads. He has always been a guy who likes to know things, especially things most people don't know. Now he has a thick book full of that stuff.

He is not reading the bible because he is full of the Light of God. He is reading it because it is secret knowledge and he wants to know the secrets.


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