The story is found in Luke 15:11-32. Jesus tells the story of a man who has two sons. The younger demands his share of his inheritance while his father is still living, and goes off to a distant country where he "waste[s] his substance with riotous living", and eventually has to take work as a swine herder (clearly a low point, as swine are not kosher in Judaism). There he comes to his senses, and decides to return home and throw himself on his father’s mercy, thinking that even if his father does disown him, that being one of his servants is still far better than feeding pigs. But when he returns home, his father greets him with open arms, and hardly gives him a chance to express his repentance; he kills a fatted calf to celebrate his return. The older brother becomes jealous at the favored treatment of his faithless brother and upset at the lack of reward for his own faithfulness. But the father responds:
"Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found." Luke 15:32, KJV
They’ve never seen a fallen tithe before, much less one who, like the prodigal son, has renounced his sins and returned to the fold.
Neal Shusterman -- Unwind
My old friend Stucks Buckley, who had taken to calling me a prodigal son despite not knowing how to pronounce the word, or what its meaning was.
Gillian Flynn -- Gone Girl
"The prodigal son," Nora said contentedly, and she smiled across the table at Petey.
Anne Tayler -- A Spool of Blue Thread
"Have you never thought of marrying your prodigal son Anatole?" she asked.
Leo Tolstoy -- War and Peace
Strange, after all this, like the prodigal son, I did not return to my father; who hearing of the ship’s calamity, for a long time thought me entombed in the deep.
Daniel Defoe -- Robinson Crusoe
The wicked wolf that for a half a day had paralyzed London and set all the children in town shivering in their shoes, was there in a sort of penitent mood, and was received and petted like a sort of vulpine prodigal son.
Bram Stoker -- Dracula
Your prodigal son has returned.
Dan Brown -- The Lost Symbol
I have not seen my mother this long time, and it lies upon my conscience, for it’s something to be loved as she loves her prodigal son.
Charles Dickens -- David Copperfield
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"I see you let the prodigal son in, sir," Coleman said.
Tom Clancy -- The Hunt for Red October
It is not glad within; last month the prodigal son of the struggling father wrote home from the city for money.
W. E. B. Du Bois -- The Souls of Black Folk
Don’t be afraid, you prodigal son, I won’t make a scandal.
Hermann Hesse -- Steppenwolf
No poor, simple, virtuous body was ever cajoled by the attentions of an electioneering politician with more ease than Aunt Chloe was won over by Master Sam’s suavities; and if he had been the prodigal son himself, he could not have been overwhelmed with more maternal bountifulness; and he soon found himself seated, happy and glorious, over a large tin pan, containing a sort of olla podrida of all that had appeared on the table for two or three days past.
Harriet Beecher Stowe -- Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Thankfully, our second prodigal son was coming home.
Phil Robertson -- Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander
D’Courtney stepped toward Reich, smiling, his arms outstretched as though welcoming a prodigal son.
Alfred Bester -- The Demolished Man
It may not be a grand feast by traditional standards, but it is a feast, as called for upon the return of the Prodigal Son, even if the son turns out to be a daughter.
Thomas C. Foster -- How to Read Literature Like a Professor
Richard himself describes how in those years, like the Prodigal Son in the Gospel, he longed to eat of the mash given to the pigs, which were fattened for sale.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky -- The Brothers Karamazov
The Prodigal Son.
Rudyard Kipling -- Kim
I know this man well: he hath been since an ape-bearer; then a process-server, a bailiff; then he compassed a motion of the Prodigal Son, and married a tinker’s wife within a mile where my land and living lies; and, having flown over many knavish professions, he settled only in rogue: some call him Autolycus.
William Shakespeare -- The Winter’s Tale
Maggie actually forgot that she had any special cause of sadness this morning, as she stood on a chair to look at a remarkable series of pictures representing the Prodigal Son in the costume of Sir Charles Grandison, except that, as might have been expected from his defective moral character, he had not, like that accomplished hero, the taste and strength of mind to dispense with a wig.
George Eliot -- The Mill on the Floss
Tranny gets the full Prodigal Son welcome: crying, hysterical fat ladies, a swarm of little kids piling out of their hammocks, sucking their thumbs and jumping up and down.
Neal Stephenson -- Snow Crash
Gant leaned forward tensely with his head craned upward, listening carefully with a faint grin of pleasure.) Well, mama, since I last wrote you things have been coming my way and it now looks as if the "Prodigal Son" will come home some day in his own private car.
Thomas Wolfe -- Look Homeward, Angel
Although the story is traditionally referred to as "The Prodigal Son", this title is not found in the gospel, and many commentators have argued that it would be better called "The Lost Son", showing its parallels to the parables of the "Lost Sheep" and "Lost Coin" which immediately precede it in Luke 15.
Parable of the Prodigal Son - Wikipedia -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Prodigal_Son(retrieved 05/20/06)
A fine example was the Prodigal Son—when he started back home.