Study Guide

Gilead Compassion and Forgiveness

By Marilynne Robinson

Compassion and Forgiveness

What happens to relationships when we don't forgive? Marilynne Robinson is all about asking that question in Gilead. John Ames, an old preacher about to buy the farm, writes to his son to confess his difficulty forgiving Jack Boughton, the beloved son a good friend. Jack has made life miserable for a lot of people, and he's back in town. If there's any hope for him, it will come through the guidance and blessings Ames can give him. But if Ames can't forgive Jack for the pain he's caused, then nothing will improve for anyone.

Questions About Compassion and Forgiveness

  1. Why does Ames say he must always be gracious?
  2. Does being a preacher make it easier for Ames to forgive people?
  3. When would Ames's theology of forgiveness fail him? Why?
  4. Who does Jack Boughton most need to forgive? Why?

Chew on This

Ames forgives Jack Boughton.

Ames does not forgive Jack Boughton.

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