Study Guide

Gilead Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

By Marilynne Robinson

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Anticipation Stage and "Fall" in to the Other World

Gilead follows Booker's Voyage and Return plot but with a twist: it's told from the perspective of the "other world."

John Ames (Jack) Boughton returns home, which to him is like returning to the scene of a crime. He's isn't home here, even among family who love and cherish him. But we don't yet know why.

Initial Fascination or Dream Stage

Home has its fascinations for Jack—Ames's wife and son not the least of them—but he still feels alienated from Gilead. He feels as though he doesn't belong, even if, to Ames, he seems to fit in only too well.

Frustration Stage

Jack needs help both financially and also with the basic course of his life. He's clearly not happy, but he finds in Ames someone he can learn from.

Nightmare Stage

Jack comes clean, telling Ames of his other family. Perhaps more than anything, Jack wants to tell his father the truth, but the consequences could be disastrous. Robert Boughton is an old man and frail. It's not unrealistic to think the news could kill him.

Thrilling Escape and Return

Jack leaves without telling his family the truth about his marriage. Because we get the story from the perspective of John Ames, we don't know what Jack's time in Gilead ultimately means to him. He may just be predestined for misery. (Probably not, though.)

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