I'm reading The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters and there's a conversation in it that goes:

‘You work in Assurance, I think you told us? What is it you do, exactly?’

‘Me? I’m an assessor of lives. Our agents send in applications for policies. I pass them on to our medical man and, depending on his report, I say whether the life to be assured counts as good, bad or indifferent.’

‘Good, bad or indifferent,’ she repeated, struck by the idea. ‘You sound like St Peter.’

‘St Peter!’ He laughed. ‘I like that! That’s clever, Miss Wray.’

Does St Peter here refer to one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ? I tried to search "good, bad or indifferent" with "St Peter". But it seems he never said anything like this. What's this phrase to do with St Peter? Is there an allusion behind this? Can anybody help me understand this piece of conversation?


It does, in fact, refer to the apostle. There's a bit of semi-Christian folklore that rather fancifully pictures St. Peter being a sort of door-guard or evaluator at the gates of heaven, checking people off on a list to see if they should get in or not. So the allusion refers to the idea of judging an entire life as falling into one of just a few categories.

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    In some versions, the three categories are the same. The good go to Heaven, the bad go to Hell and the indifferent go to Purgatory. – Gary Botnovcan Nov 4 '15 at 14:17

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