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Seeking Being in Marilynne Robinson’s ‚Gilead‘ and ‚Home‘

Megan Milota

Pages 33 - 51


In Marilynne Robinson’s companion novels, Gilead (2004) and Home (2008), traditional Protestant faith and practices form the core of the narrative. It could even be argued that Robinson reconfirms the legitimacy of a Calvinist conception of the divine, and, more importantly, champions the conscious effort to find evidence of the many minute manifestations of grace in one’s daily life. This is in marked contrast to the characteristics of postsecular fiction as outlined by Amy Hungerford and John McClure. In this essay, I would like to explore the relationships between seeking, dwelling, and religious belief in Gilead and Home, arguing that these novels do not ultimately fit the description of postsecular fiction. This essay contends that the two main characters in the novels—the Congregational minister John Ames and his problematic godson and namesake Jack Boughton—serve as examples of very different means of being in the world; the former as a loyal believer in traditional faith and the latter as secular dweller who experiences Being but cannot find a home in American society. Furthermore, this essay will argue that the aspects of Jack’s being in the world are primarily located beyond the practices of belief and in the realm of dwelling as envisioned in Martin Heidegger’s later writings.


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