In a reflective analysis of the novel, one realizes the great role played by the religion and the institution of the Church in the everyday life of sixteenth-century peasants and the actions of Martin, Bertrande, and Arnaud reflect the Christian values of the period. Through the narration of the tale of the peasants who watch out for themselves and never allow others to interfere with their own goals and ambitions, Natalie Zemon Davis also intends to realistically portray the experiences of the peasants in the sixteenth century. Thus, the author effectively unfolds, through the story of peasants who are generally regarded as insignificant people in the greater scheme of things, how the Western Christendom was splitting into opposing camps. A sensible reader also gathers the important role of the religion and the institution of the Church in the everyday life of sixteenth-century peasants and there are several suggestions in the novel about how the lives of peasants were controlled by Christian values and other influences. "The new Martin was dealing after all with a clandestine identity, and Bertrande would have had difficulty in squaring possible bigamy with her sense of honor, not to mention her conscience What was not, by any stretch of imagination, under their control by Catholic teaching was their souls. Though eventually both of them were to express guilt about their behavior, it is unlikely that they ever confessed their sins fully to the priests of Attigat or Bajou. From all accounts they were considered to be respectable couple during the years of peaceable marriage; any priest who heard at Easter confession would have excommunicated them as notorious adulterers unless they separated immediately." (Davis, 47) Therefore, the author has been effective in suggesting how influential was the religion and the institution of the Church on the everyday life of sixteenth-century peasants and the various actions of these peasants reflect Christian values.
A reflective reading of the book The Return of Martin Guerre by Natalie Zemon Davis confirms that the story of Martin, Bertrande, and Arnaud, which unfolds as Western Christendom is splitting into opposing camps, indicates the vital role played by religion and the institution of the Church in the everyday life of sixteenth-century peasants. The novel starts as the Daguerre family moves from the French Basque country to the village of Artigat in the year 1527. In Artigat, the family started a tile-works business which was a flourishing business in the sixteenth century and later on began businesses in wheat, millet, vines, and sheep. It was not easy for the family to be accepted in the new town and the identification between family and land was limited by the social and economic structure in the new town. "At its top were affluent families, like the Banquels and after them the Rols, who had many parcels of property scattered throughout Artigat, some of which they farmed themselves and some rented out to other families for fixed payments or share of the crop. These were the men who collected revenues from the church benefices within Artigat, buying that right every year from the bishop of Rieux, and who directed the parish confraternity at the village church." (Davis, 47) Thus, the various aspects of the peasant life and the social system were controlled by and intermingled with the religion and institution of the Church. Natalie Zemon Dav