“Like a blade thrust into the warmth of his life came a dread, a shrinking from that word ‘religion,’ a chill bewilderment that men could hate each other for worshipping the same God with different words.” (p. 17)
Francis Chisholm is the only son of Alexander and Elizabeth Chisholm. His father is a fisherman and not a fanatic Catholic, while Elizabeth is a cook and a daughter of a preacher. They obviously have different social class and religion. When Francis is nine year old, he loses his parents at the same time in a tragedy. Then, he has to live with his grandparents from mother, the Glennies, who does not treat him well.
After a while, Francis cannot stand to live with the Glennies any longer. He wants to leave their house. Then, Dr. Tulloch sends Aunt Polly a letter about Francis’ illness. Dr. Tulloch is Francis’ friendly neighborhood while Polly is Elizabeth’s sister in law. Therefore, Polly comes and takes Francis with her to Tynecastle. Since then, Francis lives with her family, the Bannons. Polly treats him very well and always wants him to be a priest one day.
Aunt Polly has one daughter from her late husband. Her name is Nora and she studies in different city. When Nora returns home, she and Francis are getting closer. Francis soon realizes that he falls in love with her. However, Ned Glennie and Polly send Francis to Holywell, a Catholic College. Although Francis has lived in Holywell after some time, he’s still not sure about his vocation. He thinks of Nora.
Then, on a summer Polly sends Francis a letter that tells him not to come for holiday. Disturbed by his own thought, Francis decides to go home. At Tynecastle, Francis finds out that Nora is going to marry Thaddeus Gilfoyle because she has delivered a baby. One day before the marriage, Nora goes to Whitley Bay with Aunt Polly. Unfortunately, she dies by an accident on the way there. The feeling of loss makes Francis feel abandoned. He promises to go to the English Seminary of San Morales and becomes a priest.
The Keys of the Kingdom is a novel by A.J.Cronin.