Type of Submission

Podium Presentation

Keywords

Feminism, new historicism, Protestantism, liberalism

Abstract

In her novel Gilead, Marilynne Robinson establishes a correlation between the presence of Protestantism and constricting gender roles women experience in the United States. Living in 1956 Gilead, Iowa, seventy-six-year-old Pastor John Ames begins writing to his seven-year-old son in a series of journal entries after he is diagnosed with a terminal case of angina pectoris. In these journal entries to his son, Ames records the histories of his reverend father, reverend grandfather, his own life, and present observations as the beauty of life continues to captivate him. Ultimately he hopes to “to tell [his son] things [he] might never have thought to tell [him]” had he been able to father his son longer.

Notably, all of the previously mentioned relationships are between two males. John Ames, the narrator, examines his male ancestry as he writes to his male heir. The women of Gilead are wives or caretakers, and seem solely mentioned because of the males they are associated with. In the novel, Ames mentions his former wife, who dies in childbirth early in their marriage; his current wife, whose name is not given; Glory, the single daughter of a nearby family who takes care of her father and household; his mother; grandmother; and the wife of a man named Jack Boughton. Robinson marginalizes women in the text, making them of peripheral importance to the narrative, but of great importance to providing a window into the early 20th century’s treatment of women.

Faculty Sponsor or Advisor’s Name

Dr. Peggy Wilfong

Campus Venue

Stevens Student Center, Room 240

Location

Cedarville, OH

Start Date

4-1-2015 2:30 PM

End Date

4-1-2015 2:45 PM

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

 
Apr 1st, 2:30 PM Apr 1st, 2:45 PM

Patriarchy and The Protestants: A New Historical and Feminist Reading of Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead

Cedarville, OH

In her novel Gilead, Marilynne Robinson establishes a correlation between the presence of Protestantism and constricting gender roles women experience in the United States. Living in 1956 Gilead, Iowa, seventy-six-year-old Pastor John Ames begins writing to his seven-year-old son in a series of journal entries after he is diagnosed with a terminal case of angina pectoris. In these journal entries to his son, Ames records the histories of his reverend father, reverend grandfather, his own life, and present observations as the beauty of life continues to captivate him. Ultimately he hopes to “to tell [his son] things [he] might never have thought to tell [him]” had he been able to father his son longer.

Notably, all of the previously mentioned relationships are between two males. John Ames, the narrator, examines his male ancestry as he writes to his male heir. The women of Gilead are wives or caretakers, and seem solely mentioned because of the males they are associated with. In the novel, Ames mentions his former wife, who dies in childbirth early in their marriage; his current wife, whose name is not given; Glory, the single daughter of a nearby family who takes care of her father and household; his mother; grandmother; and the wife of a man named Jack Boughton. Robinson marginalizes women in the text, making them of peripheral importance to the narrative, but of great importance to providing a window into the early 20th century’s treatment of women.

 

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