From the beginning of the story to the very last chapter we see that Nicholas Barber is searching for a father figure. Unfortunately he is not only extremely religious but also very idealistic, which makes it difficult for him to find someone who can live up to his standards.
When we first meet Nicholas, he is running away from his first father figure and into the arms of the second. On page 13 he explains why he left the church: "I had been sent to act as a secretary to Sir Robert de Brian [...] who set me to transcribing his voluminous verses [...] The birds were singing with full throats, the hawthorn was breaking into flower. I made up my pack and walked out of his house." This shows us that he left the church and his position as a subdeacon out of boredom, but also because he felt that he had been let down.
Although this is not the whole truth, this is what Nicholas, at the time, sees as his reasons for leaving.
In the beginning of chapter one Nicholas has been on the run for almost a year and has lost most of his belongings. His motives for joining the group of players are almost purely practical, but he also mentions his need for community as an important reason. Before he met the players the church was his community, led by the Bishop whom Nicholas remembers as being like a father to him. The group of players become his shield against the world, but also his new community. Naturally, the group is very different from the church, but there are also certain similarities. First of all, neither of the two are truly parts of society. The idea of the church is to set itself apart from...